Jayne Charles's Reviews > In the Fold

In the Fold by Rachel Cusk
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's review
Jul 24, 2011

really liked it

This was a bit like a temperamental old car - started off a bit jerky and I wasn't at all sure I was going to be able to make the journey, but once it got up to speed, it was as smooth as anything and I fairly sped along through some great scenery. It's a good idea to keep a dictionary close at hand - any author who makes free with the word 'contemporaneous' on the very first page is serving fair warning on the reader. And there are some unbelievably long and complicated sentences lurking in the early chapters, like brambles snaking through the undergrowth ready to trip the unwary speed-reader. To read this story out loud I swear you would need an extra lung.

Once I got beyond the first thirty or so pages, it became clear that this is an author with an impressive grip on characterisation, and a lot of very astute points to make (albeit not very succinctly). It was a shame that books are expected to have a central 'message', because in trying to make its point, this book occasionally strayed away from the startlingly brilliant dialogue and character portrayal into forced psychobabble. I'm thinking particularly of Michael's encounter late on with his wife and her bitchy friend which started off excellent but degenerated.

I thought Michael came across a bit asexual, which often happens when an author chooses a first person narrator of the opposite sex to tell a story. On the other hand I thought this gave her an excellent opportunity to point out the bizarre things some women do and say. This occurs again and again in this book and I thought the author handled it beautifully. The way the character Lisa deals with children interrupting her conversations with other adults was deserving of four stars all on its own!

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