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Wednesday, 22 February 2012


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I read an excerpt of this in a recent Granta issue and was blown away at her uncomfortable honesty, especially with respect to how difficult she found it to navigate gender roles, even when her marriage had not yet failed. I'd really like to read the book. I have enjoyed both collections of Cusk's fiction (although Arlington Park a bit less than The Lucky Ones) and if anything, she is a successful writer. She is a good writer.

I agree it is a pity that people would shut this discussion down instead of engage in it.

Joan Hunter Dunn

I'm not sure if I want to read this book but I do know that I'll be even more interested in reading her next novel. I really like reading her books.


I am waiting for this book to arrive as I am longing to read it. I can't bear the silly haters who want to close the conversation down. It's really a defence against honesty, and the brutal defrocking of cherished ideals about how people 'should' behave (as opposed to what they really do). I'm all: c'mon, let's hear what she has to say! Great post, Helen, as you define the issues really well.


Michelle, perhaps I was being a bit overdramatic when I wrote that people want to shut down the discussion, but there seem a lot - including, so oddly, women - who were more interested in condemning her that it felt as if they did just want her to belt up and go away. I think you might find A Life's Work interesting as well.

Joan - she is such a good writer, isn't she? I was disappointed by The Temporary but have enjoyed all the other novels of hers I've read. I should read more.

litlove - I agree! The reactions, taken in toto, were so hysterical and projected so much onto her. Depressing.

Desperate Reader

I started reading the extract in 'The Guardian' but found it to uncomfortable for a work break browse so still have it put aside to consider.

Divorce is such an emotive issue - Julie Birchill of all people pins it down quite nicely in today's Guardian. My parents split over 30 years ago after my mother had a break down and felt she had to leave. Despite behaving with dignity, heroism, and a great deal of self sacrifice over the next many years she has always been seen as the villain.

Definitely influenced by my mother but I can't understand why anyone would choose to live off of someone that they can't live with. Shared support of children certainly, a fare share of mutual assets - probably, but otherwise independence and new starts or there will never be equality.


Hello Hayley, what a dreadful situation that sounds, your poor mother - and awful for you too.

I enjoyed the Burchill article, thank you! There's a brilliant review of this by litlove: Do read it. It makes it seem somewhat misrepresented in the newspaper extracts.

For myself, I agree with what you say about living off someone whom you can't live with. I wouldn't want his money. But then, I have (almost) always worked and can support myself. I can also see that if you have given up work to raise the children, your 'contribution' to the marriage if you like, and after ten years of being out of the workplace are effectively unemployable - at least in your field - you might feel aggrieved at living in much reduced circumstances while your spouse continues as before because he - and it's usually a he - contributed financially to the marriage and his career and earning ability remain unaffected. So I can see that side too.

Desperate Reader

Never having been married and not having children it's easy for me to hold forth on this one... My parents divorce was on the whole amicable, they're still friendly and I don't think as children we came out of it badly but I'm well aware that it's given me very fixed ideas of how things should be done.

I have a feeling this is a book that'll turn up in oxfam soon and I'll be keeping an eye out for it.


We all do that though, don't we - have a belief system which may or may not unravel in the face of practical usage. Without it I suppose life would be very difficult. That's what Cusk was writing about in the extracts in the papers. Anyway, I hope that you and I have a happier future...

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