New Fiction

More

In this very dark comedy, a sort of Desperate Housewives for the thinking reader, Rachel Cusk eschews her tendency toward the far-fetched, which keeps readers at arm’s length from the emotional life of her previous novels. Instead she bores into the real and all-too- recognizable anxi­eties of an existence driven by “the getting and having” that constitutes modern life for the professional class.

From the archives:

Interviews: "Bleak House" (October 25, 2005)
Rachel Cusk talks about her novel, In the Fold, which explores the dark underside of a modern British fiefdom

Point of view shifts among five suburban London women. All are affluent; all are mothers of young children; all feel that their expectations for their lives have in some way been betrayed. But Cusk has a keen eye for subtle yet immensely significant social and circumstantial distinctions. The preoccupations of domestic life threaten to overwhelm these women, and Cusk’s vision of their resentment over their husbands’ freedom to remove themselves from this all- consuming world—to watch from the shelter of their cars while women, towing small children, struggle “burdened, bedraggled” along the sidewalk—is dead-on. Children here, in fact, are part of the getting and having, at once essential to their mothers’ identities and pure “unvarnished, unmitigated work”; at once the mothers’ product and consumer.

Relief from this bleak view comes from the very vigor of Cusk’s characters. Each has made a home in this homogenous place, but for a markedly different reason; each is plagued by her own distinct worries; each finds consolation in her own way. They are, in other words, strikingly real people. And then there is Cusk’s writing—so diamond sharp and so lushly metaphorical that even had this substantial book no substance, one would read it happily.

Christina Schwarz is the author of the novels Drowning Ruth and All Is Vanity.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Ghost Trains of America

Can a band of locomotive experts save vintage railcars from ruin?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In