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Arlington Park    by Rachel Cusk order for
Arlington Park
by Rachel Cusk
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Arlington Park is a delightful novel, recounting a day in the lives of five young women who live in the London suburbs. Each of these diverse women is fleshed out so beautifully that the reader almost can slip into their skins. The proximity of their homes throws them together at one time or another during this day.

Their thoughts and reactions to each other are delicious to read about and might easily be from pages of our own memoirs. Amanda has terrible thoughts of death which could account for her obsessive housecleaning. Maisie is more concerned with loss of beauty as she ages. Juliet hates the power that the men in her family hold over the women. Each woman has her own foibles that she must deal with - as do we all.

This enrapturing novel could be just another age-old story. But the wit and insightfulness with which it is written places it far above the crowd: 'It was a dangerous place to live in, a family: it was as tumultuous as the open sea beneath a treacherous sky, the shifting allegiances, the flurries of cruelty and virtue, the great battering waves of mood and mortality, the endless alteration of storm and calm.'

Author Rachel Cusk has summed up for me how it felt when I was raising my own family - I just never had the words to express myself so eloquently. The final chapter lists all the compromises the five women must make to keep their families intact. All in all, Arlington Park is a book to curl up with and delight in when the kids are in bed and your partner is snoring.

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