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Roxanne Reviews "Second Place"

Roxanne reviews Second Place by Rachel Cusk.

Rachel Cusk’s new novel Second Place will leave you speechless, mute in the way a truly extraordinary meal of voluptuously healthy food would leave you.

Ideas are richly layered on a sprawling piece of English countryside, set in the modern day. Inhabitants include the married owners, their twenty something daughter and boyfriend between college semesters, and the artist and gal pal the wife offers a spring sojourn in their carriage house, known as the second place, the book’s title.

The isolation of the environment and vast array of personalities spin interesting dynamics, much like alliances formed on shows like Survivors. Cusk establishes foreboding suspense from the get go, as she relays the story of this life period in past tense almost as a cautionary tale to a friend with tremendous listening skills named Jeffers.

Cusk delves into the concept of what the role of a parent to an adult should be, and how parental authority or lack thereof affects both parent and child’s life course. Also, how romantic relationships may require a forced suspension of reality, while the people involved crave mysterious figures who demand objectivity. Heady issues woven in genius storytelling that while super thought provoking, ironically promote a pensive calm.

Second Place is the perfect lazy hazy days of summer book, perfect for a languid poolside week.

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