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The Country Life (1997)
by Rachel Cusk
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312252803, Paperback)In Rachel Cusk's The Country Life, city mouse Stella abruptly abandons her London career and man for a job in Sussex. Her mission: to care for and transport young Martin, the disabled son of country mice Piers and Pamela Madden, owners of Franchise Farm. Alas, all is not ambrosia in Arcadia. For a start, the Maddens are, well, maddening. The paterfamilias sports "an expression of bright vacancy on his rosy face" whereas his wife evinces a more dramatic sort of derangement: "Pamela, I realized, spoke a language of energetic emergency, in which problems were approached as violently as they were escaped from." To make matters worse, not only does our heroine lack any background in her new field--she doesn't even know how to drive. Long before she's forced behind the wheel, however, Stella is out of her element. Nature, even the very air, seems against her. In one devastating tour de force, she falls asleep in the sun and is hideously burnt (but only on one side of her body!) and then suffers an indoor avian attack.
Fans of Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm will recognize more than a few nods to her classic in Rachel Cusk's hilarious and caustic third novel. For a start, the locals are unfailingly lugubrious, and every dog seems to have it in for our girl from the city. As for her young charge, Martin is either an emotional monster or a savior--though we readers might well opt for the former. The Country Life again and again displays Cusk's eye and ear for surreal comedy and social unpleasantry. Suffice it to say that your idea of a pleasant sojourn--or even a brief walk--in the country will never be the same. --Kerry Fried
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:22 -0400)
Stella Benson answers a classified ad for an au pair girl, and arrives in a tiny sussex village. What could possibly have driven her to leave her home, job, and life in London for such a rural life? Why has she severed all contact with her parents?
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