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A Life's Work


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About the Author

Rachel Cusk is the author of the acclaimed novels The Country Life and Saving Agnes. She lives in England.


"If at any point in my life I had been able to find out what the future held, I would always have wanted to know whether or not I would have children," writes Cusk, an award-winning British novelist, in her nonfiction debut. The clarity of her writing matches its depth of content, as Cusk endeavors to discover what it means to be a parent. Ultimately, what Cusk offers is an expos of motherhood that extracts its myths and reworks them into personal truths. She reexamines the teachings of traditional child rearing books to find that their once relevant answers are now outdated and only served to increase her feelings of inadequacy as a mother. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book is its accessibility, allowing mothers from all situations and backgrounds to unite in understanding. Recommended for all public libraries. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Taking an unsentimental approach to one of the most dramatic changes in a woman's life, British novelist Cusk (The Country Life) dissects the process of new motherhood from a psychological and emotional perspective. Now the mother of two, Cusk found the early weeks and months with a dependent newborn far from idyllic and rewarding, and her description of that time fills in the gaps left by most pregnancy and child-rearing books. Her dry, honest style is a refreshing change for anyone seeking to understand the daily realities of undertaking such an enormous responsibility. Despite a tone that is at times bleak and foreboding, Cusk perfectly captures the inherent conflict between the pleasures known before baby and those that the baby brings, noting, for example, "it is when the baby sleeps that I liaise, as if it were a lover, with my former life," but "sometimes I miss the baby and lie beside her cot while she sleeps." Cusk details her struggles with the major tasks all new mothers face, like feeding and sleep, and she addresses the challenge not only to do what is best for the baby, but also to maintain a sense of self and autonomy in the face of such constant, overwhelming need. Although not a cheerful baby shower gift book, Cusk's brutal honesty will certainly be appreciated by many new moms, assuring them they are not alone. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"I love reading it, and found it fascinating, but I also found it dangerous. An incitement to's an extraordinary piece of work and the writing is utterly beautiful...I laughed out loud, often, in painful recognition." --Esther Freud, author of Hideous Kinky

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