Book summary: The Country Life

1997 BY RACHEL CUSK

Stella Benson answers a classified ad for an au pair, arriving in a tiny Sussex village that's home to a family that is slightly larger than life. Her hopes for the Maddens may be high, but her station among them is low and remote. It soon becomes clear that Stella falls short of even the meager specifications her new role requires, most visibly in the area of "aptitude for the country life." But what drove her to leave her home, job, and life in London in the first place? Why has she severed all ties with her parents? Why is she so reluctant to discuss her past? And who, exactly, is Edward?

The Country Life is a rich and subtle novel about embarrassment, awkwardness, and being alone; about families, or the lack of them; and about love in some peculiar guises. Rachel Cusk's widely praised novel is a captivating tale of one young woman's adventures in self-discovery.

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