By Rachel Cusk
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374100803, 256pp.)
Publication Date: January 9, 2007
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Arlington Park, a modern-day English suburb very much like its American counterparts, is a place devoted to the profitable ordinariness of life. Amidst its leafy avenues and comfortable houses, its residents live out the dubious accomplishments of civilization: material prosperity, personal freedom, and moral indifference. In Arlington Park, men work, women look after children, and people generally do what’s expected of them. It’s a world awash in contentment but empty of belief, and riven with strange anxieties. How are they to know right from wrong? How should they use their knowledge of other people’s sufferings? What is the relationship of politics to their own domestic arrangements?
Set over the course of a single rainy day, the novel moves from one household to another, and through the passing hours conducts a deep examination of its characters’ lives: of Juliet, enraged at the victory of men over women in family life; of Amanda, warding off thoughts of death with obsessive housework; of Solly, who confronts her own buried femininity in the person of her Italian lodger; of Maisie, despairing at the inevitability with which beauty is destroyed; and of Christine, whose troubled, hilarious spirit presides over Arlington Park and the way of life it represents.
Darkly comic, deeply affecting, and wise, Arlington Park is a page-turning imagining of the extraordinary inner nature of ordinary life, by one of Britain's most exciting young novelists.
Rachel Cusk is the Whitbread Award-winning author of Saving Agnes, The Temporary, The Country Life, The Lucky Ones, and In the Fold, and of the memoir A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother. She lives in Bristol, England.
"Arlington Park is a strikingly good novel, funny, poignant, savage, tender, and appalling. What I like most is the purity of the writing, the beautiful aptness of the language to thought and theme, and the play of wit. The satire has force because is is written from within, and all the characters, however absurd, are trapped, struggling, and deeply human."
--Helen Dunmore, author of The Siege and Talking to the Dead, winner of the Orange Prize