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Arlington Park: A Novel Paperback – Dec 26 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (Dec 26 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426729
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #369,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this devastating ensemble novel, Whitbread Award–winner Cusk (Saving Agnes) exposes the roiling inner lives and not-so-quiet desperation of young mothers in the well-to-do London suburb Arlington Park. The book's single day begins with an epic rainstorm that wakes part-time private-school English teacher Juliet Randall, who spent the previous evening at a wealthier neighbor's home and was told, in front of husband Benedict, "You want to be careful.... You can start to sound strident at your age." As Amanda Clapp strains to maintain her house's empty perfection, a multi-kid play date gets out of control. Maisie Carrington feels "imprisoned for life" by her frosty, upper-crust childhood, and can barely contain her violent feelings toward her own daughters. Christine Lanham, a newcomer to the class distinction her marriage has brought her, abhors the hypocrisy that surrounds her, but knows she will never leave her family. The story line coils around each woman's home until it gathers the group for a drunken dinner party, where husbands express pleasure with their privilege while fretting that something feels amiss, and children, exhausted by their mothers' alternating neglect and desperate love, sleep like the dead—leaving the women holding hot coals of their silent insights. Their plight is an old story, but Cusk makes it incisively vivid. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Everything about Arlington Park is original and fearless.” ―Francine Prose, Bookforum

“Hideously funny . . . A novel with a sense of rightness at its core and a narrative intelligence so swift and piercing it can take your breath away.” ―The Boston Globe

“Her books are smart and deep, telling tales of urban life that are the twenty-first-century version of Austen or Thackeray. . . . Cusk's depictions and evaluations are spot-on, her language smooth and enthralling.” ―Baltimore Sun

“Cusk's glory is her style, cold and hard and devastatingly specific, empathetic but not sympathetic.” ―Los Angeles Times

“Cusk's frank acknowledgment of maternal ambivalence is rare and wonderful.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“Sharp wit and commanding prose.” ―The New York Times

“Devastating . . . Incisively vivid.” ―Publishers Weekly

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Inside This Book

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First Sentence
All night the rain fell on Arlington Park. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa36aeb58) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa32d321c) out of 5 stars One long kvetch Feb. 13 2007
By Mary Francoise - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Or whinge, as the British would say. These irritable housewives, who could be combined into two or even one character(s), seem to have never loved either their husbands or their kids. In love's place is a simmering rage whose source is murky. They seem to have chosen this suburban life for themselves and yet blame the rest of the family for it. Some might see feminists. I saw self-absorbed shrews.

Not nearly as enjoyable as Cusk's previous work, THE LUCKY ONES. The women in ARLINGTON PARK are lucky their husbands put up with them.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa331212c) out of 5 stars Bewildering Feb. 23 2007
By Kate Smart - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Where is Rachel Cusk's editor? Once again, she has written a book that leaves the reader exasperated. Instead of developing a story around the lives of one or two women, she instead features so many characters that they literally blur into one. I have never read a story where all the characters seem so alike; every one of these women is miserable, disillusioned, fed-up with motherhood, and disdainful of her husband. It was like one woman by 10 different names.

I don't know what Rachel Cusk is trying to say; I honestly felt bewildered by it all. It is very difficult to continue reading a book when you cannot stand a single character; these women were repulsive to me - thoughtless, insensitive, unloving. It's one thing to be drained by motherhood and domesticity; that isn't the issue. These women read as though they would have been despicable regardless; as single women, married women, mothers; it doesn't matter. They just aren't nice people.

It makes me wonder if Rachel Cusk is clinically depressed; the photo she chose for the back jacket is shockingly bad: lank greasy hair, dull facial expression. She's a talented writer - I hope she gets a really good editor.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3144c84) out of 5 stars Bitterness Disguised as Something More Feb. 25 2007
By Lostgirl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The first chapter of Arlington Park describes the night a rainstorm came to an upper-middle class British suburb; "All night the rain fell on Arlington Park....The rain fell on the tortuous medieval streets....It fell on the hospital...It fell on multi-storey car parks...." Very nice for atmosphere but shamelessly lifted from the opening of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. The rest of the novel continues in this vein with Rachel Cusk borrowing from the ideas of other writers before her and giving them little or no credit.

Her idea, to explore the internal lives of several women on this particular day is good except the women she creates are all bitter, cold, loveless people who have it all and still complain. We first meet Juliet, a school teacher with a husband, two children, a nice house and yet she inexplicably feels she's been "murdered" by her husband. Why? He doesn't stop her from working. He pitches in with the kids. How does he murder her? We never know. Yet this angry worldview is something that Juliet feels duty-bound to pass onto her students. Other characters are even less sympathetic; Amanda is a compulsively neat housewife who tells her preschool age son to "shut up" when he asks questions and when she does give him an explanation we're told "she wanted to hammer him over the head with it". Later, when another child gets magic marker on her sofa her reaction is equally violent: "'I could kill you!' she whispered. 'I could kill you!' She threw him back down on the cushions" How on earth are we supposed to sympathize with this woman? Or other "protagonists" are equally unlikeable. Each is discontent and expects the world to bend over backwards to accomodate her.

I'm giving this book 2 stars for some nice prose here and there. When she's not lifting her phrasing from other writers Rachel Cusk crafts her prose nicely. Still this book isn't enoyable or particularly enlightening.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa331dc6c) out of 5 stars Could not finish this one June 22 2007
By culturecritic - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I recently read "The Country Life" and immediately decided it was one of the most clever, funny books I had read in a long time. I passed it on to many friends. I also went out and bought other Rachel Cusk books and looked forward to more of her wry wit, strange characters and lengthy, but satisfying writing style. What happened between "The Country Life" and this book? Although also skillfully written, this book has a leaden, morose feeling that is never offset enough by humor or hope. The plot ties together the lives of several upper middle class young mothers living in Arlington Park, England. The book opens with a torrential rain, and from there has these ladies driving around in hatchbacks, going to malls, showing off their kitchens, and fuming over stained sofas. Not stuff that puts you the edge of your seat. And that's OK. But the problem is, not only is the setting of these ladies lives mundane in this book, it is a backdrop to extremely sad and bewildered conversations and thoughts. I am not suggesting that everything needs to be funny or sunny, but this book is SO gray (from the rain to the lives of the characters) that as you go from one chapter to then next you keep hoping for the silver lining. The gray life and the poignant conversation would have made a satisfying short story or novella, but as you plod through farther into this book it becomes overbearing. Boring settings for characters + depressing narrative = gets old fast. Written well or not. I got 75% through and when it had not appeared I did something I hate doing - I stopped reading it before finishing. If you are a die hard Cusk fan, check this out, but if you are not, or if you can't relate to, or don't find suburban motherhood angst interesting, you may want to read some of her other works. Rachel Cusk is a very gifted writer. I look forward to reading more of her work, and hope to enjoy it more than this book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3556768) out of 5 stars Disdainful June 7 2007
By Edistogirl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Is there anything about day to day life that Rachel Cusk does not find disdainful? Give me a break, no one can be this unhappy! If Arlington Park is truly this dreary, the characters should move.

It actually is possible to be a mother and a wife and feel happiness and love.

Bitter, negative, rambling....

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