Transit by Rachel Cusk

Review published on January 25, 2017.

This book captures Faye’s personal experiences in the wake of a family collapse, as she returns to London with her two sons in an attempt to rebuild her life following her divorce. A successful writer, she is a strong woman, although she is weakened by the voices of insecurities now that her husband is rebuilding his life with a new partner and a child on the way. She has purchased a home in a decent area of London, but it needs a lot of work and it is situated atop nightmare neighbours.

I liked the opening, which referred to a spam email with a bogus astrological prediction that concerned her immediate future. The prediction was all generalised and useless twaddle, yet it was uncannily applicable nonetheless. This refreshing and probably unique introduction gave the book a refreshing, promising start.

With beautifully descriptive discourse that was easy to read, as well as creating bold and vivid images, you can easily recognise and appreciate the skilled writing and enjoy the florid articulation, but despite its striking approach, for some reason the book just didn’t quite engage me.

The insightful observations are of unquestionable quality and the book should be applauded for the way it captures the longing to both inhabit and flee one’s life, but for a range of reasons, which I have struggled to identify, it wasn’t quite enough. Whilst the book is essentially about transition, there are lots of incidental stories that bombard Faye’s thoughts and life. These reflect life in general and offer a penetrating reflection. They include the superfluous things that invade and metamorphosise their way into our lives. Some of these were interesting to a degree, but others felt intrusive and needless – although they do arguably depict real life.

The book has given me a huge amount to ponder upon and consider, which is a powerful accomplishment even if it didn’t quite hit the spot. I am sure it will be reviewed highly for its skill, but I think it failed for me because I found the characters boring. Along with this, there was a paucity of the kind of light-hearted incidents that we need to carry us in life. Innocuous lives can still be conveyed in an engaging and enjoyable manner as the characters grow and reveal more about themselves – here I found was no real traction. There was no rhythm in this writing that allowed me to find a comfortable reading cadence. It stuttered too much. There were pockets of engaging reading within the melee, but for the better part, I can only say that despite the skill, emotionally it left me rating it as only a pleasant read.

Sara Garland 3/5

Transit by Rachel Cusk
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 9780374278625 hbk Jan 2017

dir93 pbk?


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