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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Country Life

In this third novel by Rachel Cusk narrator Stella Benson is leaving her husband, her parents and her job in London to take on a position as an au pair with the Maddens, a wealthy family with a disabled adolescent son. Her decision to pack up and repair to the Sussex countryside seems to have been made on the spur of the moment. She lands in Jane Eyre/Alice In Wonderland territory not knowing what her duties are nor what to expect from the family, all of whom seem to be volatile and/or mad. Stella's own behaviour as she veers from calamity to calamity would test the patience of even the most understanding of families. Being able to drive was a condition of her employment but she neglects to inform her employer that she has never been behind the wheel of a car before. Despite this she drives Martin, the wheelchair-bound teen she is supposed to care for, to school. She also steals a bottle of gin from the family's supply and drinks it with her charge. She shows up to dinner in a pair of hot pants she has fashioned with nail scissors. Then things get worse! She impales the family dog with a sun umbrella when it attacks her and drunkenly stumbles into the swimming pool. All this happens in less than a week.
I'm glad I didn't give up on Rachel Cusk after feeling rather tepid about two of her other books (Saving Agnes and Outline). This was a very funny book.

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