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Saving Agnes

3.01 of 5 stars 3.01  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Winner of the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel

Agnes Day is mildly discontent. As a child, she never wanted to be an Agnes—she wanted to be a pleasing Grace. Alas, she remained the terminally middle class, hopelessly romantic Agnes. Now she's living with her two best friends in London and working at a trade magazine. Life and love seem to go on without her. Not only do
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 6th 2001 by Picador (first published 1993)
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Jayne Charles
Every so often I need to read a Rachel Cusk....a proper wordy workout for the brain, like doing a cryptic crossword. They should all come with a free dictionary because it’s a sure thing that I will be reaching for one before long. I would consider it a wasted read if it didn’t contribute at least three new words to my vocabulary.

In this novel we meet Agnes who finds just about everything in her life a mystifying ordeal – work, socialising, finding a boyfriend. At first she seemed hard to sympat
A great read for feminists. Rachel Cusk is often vilified for some reason because she crosses a couple of taboos. She knows her own worth, she tells the truth of her experiences and these two qualities annoy some people. But as Alan Bennett says 'Taste is the death of an author.' Cusk is an excellent writer who tells the truth as she experiences it. I sometimes struggle with her desire to cram in as many literary and philosophical allusions as she possibly can, at sometimes unhelpful length. But ...more
Bill Lalonde
Second attempt to read this one. Cusk's writing is elegant and witty-- conspicuously, self-consciously so, as if she were afraid of ever writing a sentence which someone else had written before. That's not a bad thing-- at times wearying, but rather entertaining-- except that there's no damn plot. The whole book is an extended warble in someone's head. Or the first half, anyway, before I decided to give up and seek more satisfying sustenance.
Leora Bersohn
Rachel Cusk's writing is witty, intelligent, aesthetically pleasing, yet somehow not very warm. I've been reading and enjoying her since the Library Journal sent me Arlington Park to review some years ago, but I've never shaken the feeling of being held at bay. Never quite sure what that distant quality was in Cusk's work, I've wondered guiltily whether I expect female authors to present themselves as my best girlfriend, or whether after all these years of studying British literature, being marr ...more
Jane Juliette Sue
Some consider "Saving Agnes" depressing - I think it's deep, although it is true that the protagonist, Agnes, IS comfortabely depressed. She is actually so depressed and self-absorbed that she doesn't notice that she is dating a junkie. And she is such a greenhorn, that she believes that every junkie shoots, there is more of Agnes' naivety displayed throughout the story, which is not much of a story, more a wordy spiral into the abyss, somewhere dark and lonely, a place where even the most carin ...more
Maya Rock
Mar 11, 2008 Maya Rock rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Maya by: Sarah
Not my favorite of hers, but good, metaphor rich. I love Rachel Cusk in all her bleakness.
I wanted to like this, but it was too wordy and not enough happened. It seemed very familiar (share house, first job, parties, first love, loser boyfriend, work mates, parents, 20s angst) which meant there was nothing that made Agnes stand out. I liked Merlin the most and wanted him to have a happy ending.
Did not finish. I enjoy a challenging and wordy story like the rest of them, but this was unbearable. I was almost halfway through and still had no idea what the story was. Having to read pages over and over to figure them out is not my idea of a good read.
Carol Randall
Every sentence was beautifully written but at the end of the book I didn't feel I knew (or cared) much more about the characters than I did at the beginning.
Rosie Hughes
I'm afraid I think I missed the point here. The book was very well written but I didn't have a great deal of empathy for the main character.
Amazing. Also very relevant to this period in my life. I had to force myself to read it slower, because I found I was missing a lot. Nothing really happens - it's similar to "Breathing Lessons" by Anne Tyler in that way - but that's the point. But if you easily become bored by books where nothing happens, I'd say don't read it. (I don't think my mom, for example, would like it). Recommended by Curtis Sittenfeld, who is my favorite author, and though I still prefer her, this had an element of mys ...more
I don't know how this book found its way to my reading list, but it obviously was lost. Three pages in, I knew I would never make it to the end, but I gave it thirty pages more, just to be sure, before I closed it for good.
Agnes (perhaps Rachel) is an awkward young woman seeking to fit into the world. Cusk has a number of clever, even funny, insights into the difficulties Agnes faces, but they don't serve to overcome the fact that it's just hard to care about what may happen to Agnes. At leas
Veronica Zundel
Don't think I'm going to get any further with this - it's going straight back to the charity shop. I liked her personal memoir on motherhood, but this failed to grab me in any way - totally unengaging characters, convoluted sentences, and a general dismal atmosphere that made me want to move on instantly to something more cheerful. Maybe if I read more I would discover why it won the Whitbread, but I'm too old to waste the time it would take.
And indeed, I didn't get any further so I've now given
D. Biswas
This began pretty slow, but as I persisted, I got behind Agnes. I'm a great champion of the underdog, so while the literariness of the book made me happy, the hope of a happy ending for Agnes kept me reading -- by the end I really cared about her.

But the book did not move me terribly, and I remember no passages from it -- other than the beginning -- where the writer describes the scene after a party.

If you like well-written books with women central characters, you might enjoy it.
I read this when it first came out in '93; it really resonated with me as I was the same age as Agnes, living in London, going through some of the same things. I wonder if I would enjoy it as much now? I have fond memories of it and I found it witty, refreshing and funny in a painful way. It really captured my post-university years. However I tried to read On Becoming A Mother and I found the tone so dreary and negative I could not get past the first chapter.
I remember this as a novel about a woman that has a relationship with a ghost... a man that is no described in any way, doesn't seem to have a voice, a face or a life of his own... then he seems to disappear in the Hampton Court Maze leaving the protagonist puzzled but possibly better off.
Other than that, I remember a cannibal rabbit (really!).
I don't know why but this was a difficult book for me to get through. I found her sentences complex and I had to keep re-reading them. I just never got too engaged with Agnes. I've read great things about the author, so I'm going to take the blame and figure I just didn't have my brain fully functioning for this.
I really enjoyed this book, although didn't thnk I would by reading the other reviews. It's quite a simplistic tale of a young graduate and her 1st job along with a couple of relationship failures. It also goes into her childhood, room mates and work colleagues. Overall a good read. 7/10
Atrocious. One of the worst published books I have ever read. My copy is dog-eared with examples of poor grammar, phrasing, sentence structure, characterization - you name it. Apparently, however, none of this has detracted from Ms. Cusk going on to a successful writing career. /sigh
I didn't like the self-conscious way this was written (not the self-consciousness of the character, but of the author, which really showed) but I keep thinking about the development of the character, so it was effective; I'll give it that.
Something about the tone was annoying to me and I didn't really care what happened to the main character. The most entertaining character was her friend at work, and she played a minor role.
Ugh, I have read all of this book that I intend to read. Though it was published in 93, I felt as thopugh it was written in the 70's. Really felt quite dated.
I think it's one of the more elegantly written accounts of the confused twentysomethings. Sometimes Agnes grated on me, but I think that she's meant to do so.
The type of book you read nonstop but don't remember a word of once you've look up, dazed. Like reading your horoscope in all the magazines.
Jun 09, 2008 Marion added it
quite a toucing exploraiton of a young girl, over-idealistic, gradually getting her feet on the ground and dealing with life.
Slow as a snail! Nothing much happening! No wonder agnes needs to be saved
Saya Hashimoto
First novelish but I related to the bewilderment of the main character.
Written well but thin plot that seems to go no where
It was interesting yet eerie to get to know Agnes.
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RACHEL 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 lives in Brighton, England.
More about Rachel Cusk...
Outline Arlington Park The Country Life A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother The Bradshaw Variations

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