In the winter of 2009, Rachel Cusk's marriage of ten years came to an end. In the months that followed, life as she had known it fell apart. Suddenly, she was alone with two daughters, facing an uncertain future.Aftermath chronicles this journey from the end of happy family life as we know it to the beginning of a new phase. Along the way, the author has to redefine herself as a single woman; create a new version of motherhood. She discovers previously unknown strengths and freedoms but also finds herself suddenly vulnerable to outsiders, unwelcome advice, social displacement and the absence of a clear authority. There is the pressure to endlessly create a 'normal' life for her daughters while nothing that happens feels normal at all. She encounters the perils of lodgers, holiday rentals, family gatherings and new best friends.Aftermath is a masterly work in which the author, at her most candid and rigorous, charts the largely unwritten journey back to order from the chaos that is left when a family breaks apart.
Recently separated from her husband, British novelist and memoirist Cusk (A Life's Work) chronicles the upheaval that follows divorce in a probing style that lays bare the divorce's impact on herself and her family. At a Christmas service with her two young children, she feels their vulnerability exposed. No longer an intact family, they now "belong more to the world in all its risky disorder, its fragmentation, its freedom." Cerebral and unsentimental, 40-something Cusk reveals her insights about gender roles, feminism, motherhood, and religion. In her marriage, she strove for equality, with she and her husband living together as two hybrids, each of them "half male and half female." During her divorce, she finds resonance in the ancient Greek dramas-their tempestuous world of feeling and fate feel truer to her than the stories of the holy family in Christianity. Feeling in exile from her own history, she says she no longer has a life. "It's an afterlife," she tells a friend, an aftermath, which means a second harvest-a life with knowledge of what has gone before. Interspersed within the narrative are stories within stories, vivid scenes, and piercing observations. In this thought-provoking memoir, Cusk musters her considerable literary powers to mine a complex terrain filled with heartbreak and doubt. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Farrar, Straus & Giroux
August 07, 2012
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