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Publisher's Summary

A haunting fable of art, family, and fate from the author of the Outline trilogy.

A woman invites a famous artist to use her guesthouse in the remote coastal landscape where she lives with her family. Powerfully drawn to his paintings, she believes his vision might penetrate the mystery at the center of her life. But as a long, dry summer sets in, his provocative presence itself becomes an enigma - and disrupts the calm of her secluded household. 

Second Place, Rachel Cusk’s electrifying new novel, is a study of female fate and male privilege, the geometries of human relationships, and the moral questions that animate our lives. It reminds us of art’s capacity to uplift - and to destroy. 

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Rachel Cusk (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

Chicago Tribune Best Books of the Year, 2021

The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year, 2021

National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee, 2021

Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, 2021

New York Magazine Best Books of the Year, 2021

Vogue Magazine Best Books of the Year, 2021

Man Booker Award - Nominee, 2021

Time Magazine Best Books of the Year, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, 2021

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What listeners say about Second Place

Average Customer Ratings
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Description of child sex abuse

This book opens with a disturbing account of child sexual abuse. I stopped listening when the author was going to describe what happened at a slaughterhouse.

5 people found this helpful

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Horrible narrator, boring story

The narrator when voicing other characters was like nails on a chalk board. The story was whiny and self indulgent.

1 person found this helpful

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The problem with Audible

Truly, I expected more from Kate Fleetwood and Audible. This is an annoying performance that brings into view the difficulties of narrating novels. The male voices are all mannered and unpleasant, as if life or novels gave out those cues. The unpleasant L speaks with a drawl, unless he’s using the more menacing croak of the villain in a film made for children. Little is left to the listener’s imagination, when the book itself wants to engage just that faculty.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing book

I think this is one of author’s greatest books ever. It was a pure pleasure…

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Incredible!

Best audiobook I’ve ever listened to. The performance is electrifying and the prose, nourishment for the soul. Must listen!

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Her best book to date…

If you love Rachel Cusk, as I do, you will rejoice in this book of hers. An intriguing and thoughtful story and the narration is outstanding.

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Rachel Cusk is so brilliant!

Oh my God. Thank you Audible algorithm for recommending this to me. But then, it should be obvious that I hang on every word she writes.
Before I downloaded I read a couple of reviews that crabbed about the narration. I don’t see what their problem was.
Interestingly the story takes place during the pandemic, but that formed only the most distant backdrop, alluded to by snippets like, "...now that travel had become less of a problem..."
Fans will not be disappointed: there is the obligatory cringy scene where a man, with the greatest awkwardness, tries to force himself on the POV character.
I never tire of Rachel Cusk's startlingly original turns of phrase coupled with her penetrating wisdom and disarming vulnerability. If you are anything like the fanboy I am don't pass this up.

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Reader is a turn-off!

Unfortunately, the reader is a major turn-off. Harsh, curt way of speaking, off-putting. Re-record with a British voice please.

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terrible reader

awful reader: theatrical, just too exagerated. made me hate every single character.

CHANGE THE READER

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Strange Reading from Great Actress

Maybe it was the director's fault? Kate Fleetwood is a great actor ( I gave seen her onstage doing Shakespeare!) but this was jarringly disappointing. Why did she do different voices for the various characters when this was a first-person narrative? And the voice she gave the main character, "L", was so bad it was nearly unlistenable.
There were many bemusing places where the reading of a sentence was way off- pauses in the wrong places, unnatural - why didn't the director get another take?
Oh well.