The Bradshaw Variations

The Bradshaw Variations The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Apparently some people deem Rachel Rusk too clever in her books. I get that, somewhat, in her past work, like In the Fold. In that one she brandishes here cleverness with long sentences and very, very long conversations. Here, in her new work, she has tempered such lengthiness, somewhat. Sentences are still long, but for the most part they are now shorter and more immediate in their directness and mood.

Basically her novel is about the lives of the Bradshaw clan, particularly Thomas and his wife Antonia, or Tonie as he calls her. Thomas is taking a sabbatical from work, for a year, to take care of their daughter Alexa, while Tonie goes off to head a department in her university, after her promotion. Thomas wants to learn how to play the piano. Meanwhile Tonie, working late, gets propositioned by good-looking visiting lecturers, and finally succumbs to one. As if this is a punishment for straying, she hears bad news about her daughter, when she is taken ill with meningitis and loses part of her hearing. We, the readers, ask, Are they good parents?

This is also the question we ask of Thomas’s other two brothers, Howard and Leo, and their wives, and their parents. To answer for one pair, we see that Mrs Bradshaw doesn’t quite take to Tonie. Claudia, Howard’s wife, thinks taking care of her children has caused her her artistic career.

Don’t start on this book looking for any solid plot, and there is not any, really. All the reader does throughout this not so lengthy novel is step into the Bradshaws’ world of thoughts and observations. However, savour the way Cusk writes – need I say again – so cleverly. A story without plot, this novel, nevertheless, gets your attention with fine details about domestic lives that appear so very normal on the surface, while beneath, deep emotions hover and simmer. Cusk carries these emotions so effortlessly, as per usual, in her so clever way.

View all my reviews >>


Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.