Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

Arlington Park
375 pages; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Arlington Park is one of those Georgian suburbs that circle London, a place that inspires a smug sense of self-satisfaction in some of its residents and a mind-numbing claustrophobia in others. In her wonderfully nuanced Arlington Park (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Rachel Cusk takes one rain-sodden day in the life of this prosperous enclave and teases out the story of its women, wittily dissecting their petty jealousies, wrenching loneliness, frustrations with motherhood, and alienation from the meaning of their lives. Cusk's genius is that she does all this, piercing the cold heart of modern suburbia, without ever preaching or turning against her characters. Her women are fully fleshed, likable (for the most part), and caught up in the kind of domestic dramas that Jane Austen would have had a ball with. This is a brooding book, and yet at the end of the long day, it's impossible not to feel real warmth for Arlington Park and its spirited denizens.
— Elaina Richardson