Published: November 2007
Arlington Park, a modern-day English suburb, 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 civilisation: material prosperity, personal freedom, and moral indifference. For all that, Arlington Park is strikingly conventional. Men work, women look after children, and people generally do what’s expected of them.
Theirs is a world awash with contentment but empty of belief, and riven with strange anxieties. 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.
Rachel Cusk's sixth novel is her best yet. Full of compassion and wit, each page laden with truth, she writes about her characters' domestic lives, their private thoughts and fears with an intelligence and insight that will leave readers reeling as for example in the following paragraph:
They were seeing something they knew but had lost. It was a feeling with which they were familiar. It was this that had given hem their powerful understanding of life. They knew that you lost the good along with the bad, both equally. They weren’t interested any more in things you could lose, in time or love or the feeling of a baby in your arms. They were interested in things that stayed with you for ever: houses, possibly husbands. And themselves, of course. What they wanted to avoid was destruction. Like politicians, they were interested in survival...
Read at the Readers Guide a review that helped to shorlist Arlington Park for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, two interesting reviews in the Guardian and the Observer as well as an interview given after the publication of her book.