A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother


by: Cusk, Rachel
Format: Hardcover

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Product description The experience of motherhood is an experience in contradiction. It is commonplace and it is impossible to imagine. It is prosaic and it is mysterious. It is at once banal, bizarre, compelling, tedious, comic, and catastrophic. To become a mother is to become the chief actor in a drama of human existence to which no one turns up. It is the process by which an ordinary life is transformed unseen into a story of strange and powerful passions, of love and servitude, of confinement and compassion. In a book that is touching, hilarious, provocative, and profoundly insightful, novelist Rachel Cusk attempts to tell something of an old story set in a new era of sexual equality. Cusk’s account of a year of modern motherhood becomes many stories: a farewell to freedom, sleep, and time; a lesson in humility and hard work; a journey to the roots of love; a meditation on madness and mortality; and most of all a sentimental education in babies, books, toddler groups, bad advice, crying, breastfeeding, and never being alone. From Publishers Weekly Taking an unsentimental approach to one of the most dramatic changes in a woman's life, British novelist Cusk (The Country Life) dissects the process of new motherhood from a psychological and emotional perspective. Now the mother of two, Cusk found the early weeks and months with a dependent newborn far from idyllic and rewarding, and her description of that time fills in the gaps left by most pregnancy and child-rearing books. Her dry, honest style is a refreshing change for anyone seeking to understand the daily realities of undertaking such an enormous responsibility. Despite a tone that is at times bleak and foreboding, Cusk perfectly captures the inherent conflict between the pleasures known before baby and those that the baby brings, noting, for example, "it is when the baby sleeps that I liaise, as if it were a lover, with my former life," but "sometimes I miss the baby and lie beside her cot while she sleeps." Cusk details her struggles with the major tasks all new mothers face, like feeding and sleep, and she addresses the challenge not only to do what is best for the baby, but also to maintain a sense of self and autonomy in the face of such constant, overwhelming need. Although not a cheerful baby shower gift book, Cusk's brutal honesty will certainly be appreciated by many new moms, assuring them they are not alone. From Library Journal "If at any point in my life I had been able to find out what the future held, I would always have wanted to know whether or not I would have children," writes Cusk, an award-winning British novelist, in her nonfiction debut. The clarity of her writing matches its depth of content, as Cusk endeavors to discover what it means to be a parent. Ultimately, what Cusk offers is an expos? of motherhood that extracts its myths and reworks them into personal truths. She reexamines the teachings of traditional child rearing books to find that their once relevant answers are now outdated and only served to increase her feelings of inadequacy as a mother. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book is its accessibility, allowing mothers from all situations and backgrounds to unite in understanding. Recommended for all public libraries. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. From Booklist British novelist Cusk eloquently captures the dark, sweet mystery of becoming a parent. She laments the lack of realistic portrayals of motherhood in the media; the pregnancy books leave out new parents' confusion, sense of inadequacy, and fear. This is not a happy guide; instead, it is a penetrating, sometimes joyful and amusing, sometimes frightening and disturbing look at pregnancy and motherhood. Cusk includes passages from literature, including Jane Eyre and Madame Bovary, passages that took on new and profound meaning for Cusk after the birth of her daughter. She felt "like a dreamer who retains the knowledge that they are dreaming" although she is certain that she will return to herself, "cross back over the border." But she doesn't. She's changed forever after experiencing endless nights of sleep deprivation, jockeying equipment for every outing, and child-proofing her house and life. She is also changed by reconfigured notions of love and responsibility. Parents will love this beautifully written, frank, and absorbing book. Vanessa Bush Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved Review “I love reading it, and found it fascinating, but I also found it dangerous. An incitement to riot...it’s an extraordinary piece of work and the writing is utterly beautiful...I laughed out loud, often, in painful recognition.” —Esther Freud, author of Hideous Kinky About the Author Rachel Cusk is the author of the acclaimed novels The Country Life and Saving Agnes. She lives in England.


Product Code: 9780312269876
ISBN: 0312269870
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 2002-04-06
Number of Pages: 224 pages
Languages: English
Edition: 1st
Dimension: 5.59 x 0.91 x 8.39 inches
Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds