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Christmas Cusk!

Liath
By Liath

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Christmas Cusk

    Transit

    In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions - personal, moral, artistic, practical - as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life. Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility and the mystery of change. In this precise, short and yet epic cycle of novels, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language towards it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one's life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.

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    The Temporary

    When one of corporate London's transient typists unexpectedly crosses Ralph Loman's path, her disruptive beauty ignites a brief blaze of excitement in his troubled heart. But Francine Snaith is ravenous for attention, driven by a thirst for conquest, and when Ralph tries politely to extricate himself he finds he is bound in chains of consequence from which it seems there is no escape.

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    The Country Life

    Stella Benson sets off for Hilltop, a tiny Sussex village housing a family that is somewhat larger than life. Her hopes for the Maddens may be high, but her station among them, as au pair to their irascible son Martin - is undeniably low. What could possibly have driven her to leave her home, job and life in London for such rural ignominy? Why has she severed all contact with her parents? Why is she so reluctant to talk about her past? "The Country Life", Rachel Cusk's third novel, is a rich and subtle story about embarrassment, awkwardness and being alone; about families, or the lack of them; and about love in some peculiar guises.

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    Outline

    In the winter of 2009, Rachel Cusk's marriage of ten years came to an end. In the months that followed, life as she had known it came apart, "like a jigsaw dismantled into a heap of broken-edged pieces". "Aftermath" chronicles this perilous journey as the author redefines herself as a single woman and creates a new version of family life for her daughters. She discovers previously unknown strengths and freedoms but also finds herself suddenly vulnerable to outsiders, unwelcome advice, social displacement and the absence of a clear authority. The pressure to reconstruct a 'normal' life for her daughters competes with the sense that nothing feels normal at all. "Aftermath" is a masterly work in which the author, at her most candid and rigorous, charts the largely unwritten journey back to order from the chaos that is left when a family breaks apart.

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