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.