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The Lucky Ones: A Novel

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The Lucky Ones is a novel about creating and sustaining life during times of great transformation. The five people whose lives convergehere are also haunted by family -- the longing for love, the struggle to connect.

Ayoung pregnant mother wrestles with utterly changedcircumstances;a new father searches for a sign of the man he used to be; a daughteryearns for a lost
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 2nd 2004 by Harper (first published 2003)
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Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel a bit slapped around by this novel, published in 2003, the year after Cusk's bombshell of a memoir about motherhood, A Life’s Work, had such a mixed reception. Not only do her chapters read as individual, difficult-to-reconcile stories, the sentiment is painful to read. She is not funny: if one laughs, she remarked in an interview, the power is lost. Women and men living together in anything but married bliss: it’s instructive, relatable, hardly comforting.

The angles from which Cusk
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
With this one, I can now claim to have read all of Cusk's novels so far, and this is one of the more distinctive ones.

This is another book that straddles the line between novel and linked short story collection - the five parts could all be read as self contained stories, and the last two could be seen as novellas. All except the middle part are narrated in the third person. The links include characters that appear in two or three of the stories and all are larfely about parenthood.

The dramatic
Ayelet Waldman
These short stories are lovely, but I have a bone to pick. This is not a novel. Just because a group of short stories happen to share some characters you cannot just call them a novel. Novels have an overarching plot - a narrative. A theme and a thematic structure. STOP CALLING SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS NOVELS. Goddamn it.
A wonderful book, one that calls to be re-read. This is an exploration of motherhood and of families. The linking stories are sometimes uncomfortable, confronting in their reality. It's possible to recognise in this novel the world around us. These are our neighbours, friends and relatives. Maybe even ourselves.

Rachel Cusk uses a style of narrative in which she gives perspectives on individuals and groups their own sections in her books and leaving the reader to find the connections. Each is a
Cusk is a writer's writer. These linked stories revolve around recurring characters, but the connections are often hard to keep straight. If I weren't in the middle of so many books, I would have read twice. And think I will reread some day. The main theme is motherhood, and the connection between mothers and their children. Also, what constitutes luck. How do we measure it? How do we recognize it, not only in others' lives but in our own. The writing is wonderful, but I did find there was a ...more
Anne Green
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is billed as a novel but it's actually five separate stories, linked nebulously by two or three characters. There’s a passage in it spoken by one of the characters who appear consistently (albeit often briefly) in each of the stories. This is Serena, a young woman ostensibly successfully combining career (journalism) and motherhood. She writes a regular column for a national newspaper based on her own family experiences and those of other women she knows. She says, when asked what it ...more

It was the July selection of my library reading group and I have to say it didn't capture my interest at all. Some of the prose was beautiful but often it choked itself on wordiness leaving the impression the writer had swallowed a dictionary or was showing off. I just didn't care about the characters or the minute details of their thoughts and lives. I playfully longed for something dramatic to happen; saying to my husband at one point I wish she'd just murder her husband rather than whining
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Short story readers; mothers
Recommended to Jennifer by: Janet
This book of connected short stories is my first experience with Cusk. I will definitely read her novels as I liked her style. Each story offered a different glimpse of Cusk's creative abilities. The first story in the collection was my favourite. It is a 5-star story, to me. There were a couple of 4-star stories and a couple of 2-star and 3-star stories so I am having a tough time with my overall rating. Probably 3.5-stars. How non-committal is that??

Possibility of more detailed review to come.
Buckle Button Zip
I gave this book two stars mostly because I didn't connect to the story. She's a wonderfully stark and observant writer, who packs a punch with her short stories. The book is a series of short stories that are connected by a "six-degrees-of-separation" theme. Woven through the stories are themes of motherhood/paretning or women wrestling with a should I/shouldn't I have a family question. At 228 pages, it's a fairly fast read, but not necessarily light and breezy.
Jo Ann Hall
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The woman can write, no doubt about it. Her subject matter and absolute honesty in approaching it may make the mothers among us squirm a bit. I am curious to know if other readers are reminded of Iris Murdoch's writing, although I'd say that Cusk is much less self-conscious and precious in her task. As well-written as it is, I'm not sure that it improved MY human condition in its reading, and perhaps that's not an entirely fair test of its worthiness.
Jun 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, general-fiction
I didn’t get this. What I saw here was 5 loosely interconnected stories about some very unhappy people. I didn’t see the “luck” anywhere. I’m kind of sorry I read this, for it was rather depressing and I don’t think it said anything good about children at all. I’m glad it was short so I didn’t waste more than a day on it.
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I placed The Lucky Ones on my "short stories" shelf because, to me, the five short chapters that comprise this book certainly read more like loosely related short stories than a cohesive novel.
"The thought of his daughter filled him with spurts of nervous warmth, and with the alarm of someone who has dropped a plate and is watching it in the the last seconds of its wholeness, before it hits the floor."

Rachel Cusk, The Lucky Ones (London: Harper Perennial, 2003), 39.
This book was like a book in the round. The first characters you meet in the first chapter disappear and then you find them in the last. It's a six degrees of seperation kind of book set in Suburban London. I enjoyed it.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Short stories about reproduction/motherhood adn family dynamics. Sad but well written I did not finish it as I was not really in the mood for these stories.
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Now, I really enjoyed Arlington Park, so had high hopes for The Lucky Ones. Unfortunately Cusk's earlier novel did not elicit the same response. Despite having a different subject matter, the layout was a bit too similar to AP, yet not as enjoyable a read. Whilst Arlington Park had subtle touches of humour, The Lucky Ones was just a bit too dreary and the characters aren't particularly believable or likeable.

That isn't to say it isn't well written, because I want to make it clear that it is.
Jan 10, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Langdon
Mar 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So every once in a while you have to find a dud. That's what this "novel" was for me. It seems to me a set of sketches barely connected with little overall theme.

That said, there are some good sections. The first sketch, "Confinement," captures the fear and sense of abandonment of being pregnant and imprisoned for unjust reasons, trying to survive through uncertain ties to other jailed women. The second, "The Way You Do It," probes six discordant personalities on a Swiss skiing holiday,
Jun 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
"Other skiers shot by him, their bodies straight and graceful, swaying from side to side with the precision of metronomes and then vanishing in a spray of powder" (40).
"Now that the baby had come his life would be lived aginst a mounting force of limitation" (56).
“Samantha bore a curious resemblance not only to her son but also to Robert himself. They were made in the same style. They were like a set of vases, or a series of paintings by a particular artist” (78).
“ ‘I remember, when the twins
Favourite Colours
So far, everything i have read by Rachel Cusk has been satisfying; perhaps in the main due to the fact that i feel she is one of the few modern writers i actually am convinced by, that seems to be writing the books that i want to read (and write).

This is not so much a novel as a short collection of longer short stories, the first two are decent enough, the third begins to really interest, but it is the last two that stand out, to the point where i finished the book disappointed that these two
Feb 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
I read this book for the first time in the summer of 2004, and decided to re-visit it four years later. It hadn’t made a memorable impression on me from that summer, but I did recall liking it. This time around, I was shocked by how little I had remembered about it, so unfortunately, though this set of four short stories that interlink together was interesting, it was rather forgettable. The links between the stories provided the most fascinating aspect of this rather hard to classify book as a ...more
Izabella Sandison
This book was about a girl who was pregnant in jail for something that she didn't even do. She suffered many months of pain with barley in help and she basically gave up because her lawyer that was supposed to get her out didn't. He was sick for a few weeks and gave the case to his other lawyer to do it for him but she messed up the whole thing. Leaving the girl named Kristy to serve 10 years in prison while her child is growing up away from her mother. Throughout the novel the chapters where ...more
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very good, she writes very well about the inner thought processes of people and this collection of short stories (but with inter-connected characters) was striking. Although... everyone is sad, or disappointed, or not in love with their spouse, or struggling with parenthood and at times I yearned for at least one character to be happy and fulfilled.
i enjoyed reading this book, which is a novel, although it often feels like a collection of short stories. it's a light read and the story/ies mostly deal with women, families, family life and children, etc. it was a neat read because it stimulated a lot of thought about "traditional" and "modern" senses of the way people should/do relate to each other within and outside of family structures.
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A steely, truth-telling collection of linked short stories (it's absurd that the publisher tried to pass this off as a novel). Cusk's descriptions of domesticity are piercing and clean. She never stoops to sentiment as she observes the lives of fulltime mothers. Rather, her stories acknowledge the violence and terror of everyday existence.
Melissa Rotkiewicz
As far as short story collections go, this book was entertaining and had some good plot lines. I was easily captivated by the first story, and truthfully, would have been happier if that had developed into the whole book. Nonetheless, the other stories were okay and kept me interested enough to read them through.
Ian Jardine
Jun 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Actually I gave up before page 50. I read a short story by Rachel Cusk and was interested to read a novel. But this just didn't work for me. A book of clichés mouthed by cardboard cut out characters. The cover blurb says it illuminates the complexity of emotional existence. Really? Couldn't find any complexity here.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned of this book via Cookie magazine. It's an excellent and fascinating description of multiple mothering perspectives - influenced by age & social class. I found the initial chapter to be very compelling, but the last chapter to be a bit weak. Regardless, like The Corrections, some of her prose perfectly encapsulates the emotional experiences of motherhood.
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
part of the problem was that my reading of this book was very choppy. But basically, I didn't get it. I still have no idea what the first chapter had to do with the rest of the book. Or the second chapter.
I liked the way this was done. Stories bound together by a common theme. I think that Cusk writes intelligent fiction - you feel you're getting something extra from it, thought as well as entertainment.
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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 8 years old. 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.

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