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Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation
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Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  328 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
In 2003, Rachel Cusk published A Life's Work, a provocative and often startlingly funny memoir about the cataclysm of motherhood. Widely acclaimed, the book started hundreds of arguments that continue to this day. Now, in her most personal and relevant book to date, Cusk explores divorce's tremendous impact on the lives of women.

An unflinching chronicle of Cusk's own recen
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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MJ Nicholls
Feb 13, 2013 MJ Nicholls marked it as getting-even
Never marry a writer, because when the inevitable happens, they can turn their distress into “art” and send you down as the flakiest twot of all time. Unless Hatchet Job winner Camilla Long is to be believed.
Kasey Jueds
Aug 15, 2012 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I was predisposed to love this book, since I've loved all of Rachel Cusk's work (with the exception of one of her very early novels) thus far--I even pre-ordered it on Amazon, which I think I've done maybe once before. There are so many things I admire about RC's writing--many of which, oddly, are a lot easier to express negatively. Her memoirs aren't memoirs in the common sense of the word--Aftermath and her two previous memoirs, The Last Supper and A Life's Work, don't tell a story in any sort ...more
Sarahc Caflisch
Not an unenjoyable read if you read this first: which I kind of agree with (the review AND that the reviewer deserved "Hatchet Job of the Year"). Warning: this book is very overloaded with metaphors and similes. The prose like a soup that has been overcrowded with vegetables and meats to the point where the broth disappears altogether. And, like a once-ever-green bush now hidden under a mink coat of white snow. Or a cat with a spine riddled with tumors. And much l ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Iva rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Cusk's novel's are wonderful; they are illuminating, thoughtful and worthwhile reads. However, this so-called memoir is not in that category. It appears --at least to me--to be a series of journal entries mostly about her separation from her husband, but mysteriously, she never reveals much about the marriage. Her self-absorption is difficult to overcome.
Jul 15, 2012 Elyssa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Underwhelming, lacking substance, and reads like a poorly edited diary; if the author insists on writing about the aftermath of her separation, it would be helpful if she gave the reader more insight as to why her marriage ended.
Mar 13, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what all the fuss is about. Yes, it's raw and angry, but it's not exactly a 'tell-all' about her marriage or divorce. She hits on some of the major issues, but avoids the gory details--wisely, I think. Her husband doesn't come off too badly, her kids probably wouldn't even recognise themselves, so the only one who she really hangs out to dry is herself, and isn't that her prerogative? OK, maybe people take issue with her very blunt opinions on love, marriage and motherhood, but man ...more
Lucy Somerhalder
Sep 16, 2014 Lucy Somerhalder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with A Life's Work, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and the exploration of loneliness. There is some wonderfully brutal honesty in this - the kind that seems to perfectly articulate those long-held, yet fragmented and unutterable feelings of unease. Hats off to Cusk, because her honesty often leaves her exposed and thoroughly unlikable.
Apr 14, 2017 Swede rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. Her novel "Outline" is better.
Kathleen Hulser
Feb 19, 2017 Kathleen Hulser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fierce scrutiny of the aftermath of divorce, anchored in descriptions of states of phenomenological confusion, loss of boundaries, loss of meaning. Cusk realizes that she gave away her social prestige by allowing her husband to care for the children; yet that is a prestige that she recognizes as coin of a social system she felt she had transcended. Acute analysis of the exchange of masculinity and femininity within the forms of marriage and personal dialectics. Painfully honest about the alien r ...more
What a horrible book! During the creation of this book I believe that the writer (full time writer Rachel Cusk) was in a bad mood. A very bad mood. It is not surprising considering her separation/divorce and consequences of divorce. She got a partial custody of her daughters but she was also supposed to financially support her husband who didn't work (a lawyer), was at home (by choice) helping bringing up the children. What a mess!!!
There is a lot of Greek mythology in this book. Quite a few cha
James Tierney
Apr 19, 2012 James Tierney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfectly brittle memoir on the aftermath of separation.
Sara Salem
Jan 25, 2016 Sara Salem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this in two hours because it is so vivid. Amazing observations on love, relationships, gender and what it means to be a woman generally.
Mar 25, 2017 Solange rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't like it at all. The author was trying so hard to be "literary" that her writing was incomprehensible. Ugh!
Mar 11, 2017 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have (more than) a sneaking suspicion that Rachel Cusk lives continually in a deeper world than most of the rest of us can even comprehend. Her voice pulls back layer after layer, bringing into focus the vague unease, the muffled heartbreak and the very heartbeat of life.

She weaves the horrible, mundane bits of life after loss together with the wrenching significant moments that mark a break in our story, and she does it gracefully. Will be reading more of this author.

"Z is a man. What am I to
Sean Kinch
Mar 15, 2017 Sean Kinch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short essay (not exactly a memoir, nor completely not a memoir) filled with memorable lines about rebuilding one's identity after divorce. On why she resists flowers: "For a moment I am frightened, as I have learned to be now of beautiful things, frightened they will contain lacerating shards of nostalgia."

I read OUTLINE before this one; now I can see how she evolved from writing a divorce book without depicting the break up to writing a novel without a protagonist.
Aline Ohanesian
I don't usually read memoir, but I picked this up after reading Outline. The first half of the book contains insightful observations about marriage but the second half of the book is bizarre. The last chapter is specially perplexing, because it's written from the POV of the narrator's nanny, which made me wonder if it was indeed a memoir.
Jul 19, 2016 Cai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Cusk is a writer of keen intellect which she puts to work beautifully in her memoir AFTERMATH: ON MARRIAGE AND SEPARATION. The slim volume ruminates on brief incidents from the period following her own separation to reflect on cultural norms surrounding marriage, motherhood, and gender roles. Her reflections are deep, expansive, and often poetic. They include thoughts about marital discord in the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles which reveal values that run counter to the Christian values ...more
Jan 09, 2016 Lgordo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I read A Life's Work, I was an immediate fan. I wanted to run out and accost strangers and say "Read this! It's perfect! It says it exactly how it is!"

When I read Aftermath my reaction was similar but opposite. I wanted to accost strangers and say, "Read this. What do you make of it? I don't understand."

This may be a function of my not being divorced. But the book struck me as a wandering narrative that doesn't ever arrive.

The thing most disappointing is that the book sticks to its title.
Elena D
Sep 14, 2016 Elena D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-women
For some reason, I found Outline was closer to the truth that Aftermath, if truth is what you are after. Aftermath being autobiographical, I find it quite secretive. We get to listen to the author without a character to hide behind, but it is only a whisper. It might have to do with it being about a dark period that still isn't over when as she writes, which results in a loss of perspective, although that might also be looked upon as a good thing. When she repeats certain words and sentences, th ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Jovis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4/5 stars. An art to fall into, as much as it is a memoir. Thin slice of a creative and figurative analysis.

After finishing this, I'm left to my own thinking - to reflect upon aspects of life I've never seen in the way that Cusk has had. Filled with personal and impersonal events in life intertwined in one, Aftermath is written like an harmonious piece inviting the audience to really go into the understanding of the composer's head and perceptions. Having been married and separated, she gives t
Feb 08, 2017 ger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three Stars

This a book that feels like the author needed to write it. It's intelligent and honest and complex at times but for me her best moments just sounded like something Jeanette Winterson would have written. Try 'Oiutline' first if you want to read her.
Aug 10, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who divorced with young children 12 years ago this book was fascinating and I could identify with much of it - esp. the constant feeling the author has of looking at 'intact' families and feeling that she is an alien in comparison, that she and her daughters are shut out from the cozy family scene now that the family is split. I had that feeling quite a bit the first few years of divorce but as time went on and I met more and more divorced folks I felt more 'normal' and my life got ha ...more
Cusk's memoir about divorce is filled with powerful language and literary prowess. At first, I liked how it seemed that she was zooming in on the realities of divorce through an unexpected and unique lens. But after awhile, it felt like she was avoiding much of the sticky, confusing, and wrenching guts of a failed marriage. I felt at times that she was using her literary allusions and references to avoid digging in to this material.
The memoir ends with a piece of fiction, that while captivating,
Maureen Mead
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 13, 2012 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Elegantly written. Not my thing. Philosophical, fatalistic (in the sense that marriages should fail), angling toward nihilistic, devoid of joy or passion for life. I feel for Cusk, who is talented and has documented her difficult time. I was waiting for the book to be over and am not sure why I pushed on to finish it. She is waiting for her life to begin again in a re-invented way. I feel mean-spirited in my opinion of this book. Is it fair to say I might have enjoyed it had she made it fiction?
Mar 16, 2013 Rhian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know what divorce is like, but don't want to go through the paperwork...

This is actually a very, very internal account of something that would have more meaning for the reader if it were less so. There are no details about the ex, or why the marriage fell apart. But this book doesn't care about the reader -- that wasn't Cusk's project. For what it is, it is quite brilliant. But you have to get over the writer's complete self-absorption. I suspect not every reader will want to do t
Rhiannon Johnson
Aug 24, 2012 Rhiannon Johnson rated it it was ok
This slim piece by Cusk is poetic and fluid. The stream of conciousness style writing is well suited for the topic. Her thoughts swim around in the days and months following her divorce. She draws comparisons to Greek mythology and questions family structure. This book will be a great point of reference for divorce, family studies, cultural expectations of marriage, and especially for the reflections of a modern scholar on her emotional fragility following her marriage's demise.
Nov 06, 2012 Esther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She got a lot of flack for writing this account of her divorce and the period afterwards - emotional narcissim and the such. It is searingly honest and brilliant writing, but I concur the critics have a point. Especially the scenes she recalls involving her children, seems to undermine their privacy and right to be their own people, not daughters of famous writer. But I kept on reading, it was too good not to, so my moral compass is hardly flawless.
Jun 23, 2013 Vicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Cusk's autobiographical stuff (this book and A Life's Work) is *so* infuriating that you just want to shout at the author - 'do you have NO sense of critical distance? No sense that it's not All About You'? And her prose is frequently (wilfully?) laboured. But just sometimes she really hits the nail on the head...
Aug 19, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Cusk gently weaves bits of her experiences following the end of her marriage with philosophical musings. The story seems fragmented, but she skillfully brings closure. Some of the analyses involving Greek mythology and Shakespeare prove distracting. But her writing is so clean and beautiful, just lovely.
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Rachel Cusk was born in Canada, and spent some of her childhood in Los Angeles, before her family returned to England, in 1974, when Cusk was 8yo. She read English at New College, Oxford.

Cusk is the Whitbread Award–winning author of two memoirs, including The Last Supper, and seven novels, including Arlington Park, Saving Agnes, The Temporary, The Country Life, and The Lucky Ones.

She has won and
More about Rachel Cusk...

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“To observe is not to not feel—in fact, it is to put yourself at the mercy of feeling, like the child's warm skin meeting the cold air of midnight. My own children, too, have been roused from the unconsciousness of childhood; theirs too is the pain and the gift of awareness. 'I have two homes,' my daughter said to me one evening, clearly and carefully, 'and I have no home.' To suffer and to know what it is that you suffer: how can that be measured against its much-prized opposite, the ability to be happy without knowing why?” 2 likes
“The world is constantly evolving, while the family endeavours to stay the same. Updated, refurbished, modernised, but essentially the same. A house in the landscape, both shelter and prison.” 0 likes
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