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Publisher's Summary

A woman writer visits a Europe in flux, where questions of personal and political identity are rising to the surface. Within the rituals of literary culture, Faye finds the human story in disarray amid differing attitudes toward the public enactment of the creative persona. She begins to identify among the people she meets a tension between truth and representation that causes her to consider questions of acclaim, justice and the ultimate value of suffering.

©2018 Rachel Cusk (P)2018 W. F. Howes Ltd

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  • EEL
  • 09-03-18

Read the physical book

This is a narrative like the other two in the trilogy which is driven by a series of conversations between the narrator and various interlocutors, with the narrator's side very minimal and suppressed so that the effect is of a series of monologues in the form of short stories. These are linked by being told to the narrator and through their kaleidoscopic presentation of linked themes of desire, family life, gender roles, attitudes to work, and capacity to deal with change in relationships.

The audio book is marred, for me irreparably, by the rather monotonous tone of the voice actor here, who doesn't differentiate the characters, fails to bring out the humour in the narratives, and flattens the whole book out into a rather unrelenting dirge. I think this is unfair to Cusk and obscures one of the chief virtues of the novel: the polyphonic nature of the voices. In addition, the narrator does not know how to pronounce some quite common words (foliage, Plath, mischievous), a fault I've found with other Whole Story Audio actors, which suggests that their editors are also not the most literate either. While not as bad as some of their productions, this one has similar faults.

I would love to know what this book would sound like voiced by Juliet Stevenson, Samuel West, or Fiona Shaw, for example. Cusk or her agent should be more alert to the potential for inadequate audio to detract from the quality of her novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful