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Summary

After the publication of Outline, Transit and Kudos - in which Rachel Cusk redrew the boundaries of fiction - this writer of uncommon brilliance returns with a series of essays that offers new insights on the themes at the heart of her life's work. Encompassing memoir and cultural and literary criticism, with pieces on gender, politics and writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Olivia Manning and Natalia Ginzburg, this collection is essential reading for our age: fearless, unrepentantly erudite, both startling and rewarding to behold.

The result is a cumulative sense of how the frank, deeply intelligent sensibility - so evident in her stories and novels - reverberates in the wider context of Cusk's literary process. Coventry grants its readers a rare opportunity to see a mind at work that will influence literature for time to come.

©2019 Rachel Cusk (P)2019 Faber Audio

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Essays for Women, about Women,

about why they write at all, often at the expense of their womanhood. The aim is to lift all humans into a greater sense of the creative potential of life, especially housed in womanhood. Not that this is what motivated Cusk, I don't think she'd put it that way, and we could be more erudite in our analytical response to her modern voice expert in tradition (the male world), but I leave that to the many competent literary critics while I express how her essays restored my soul.

I cannot help but take a higher metaphysical approach to Cusk's work, it seems, whenever I read/hear her write everything I wished I had written. After each essay I found myself wondering if anything more could ever be written on the subject. There is something so undeniably definitive about her observations and analysis. Her writing shows us what essays are for and how they celebrate and encourage self knowledge in others.

She unveils the more inextricable roots of and more tenacious obstacles to true womanhood around every human corner of emotional battle and intellectual struggle (often in the face of an invented oppositional manhood since the beginning of all delusion) with uncanny quotidian example or poignantly wasted (childhood) potential. In the first essays she is hard on herself, and the ones in the second part on (fellow) authors are piercing yet always forgiving. They understand and identify that essential drive to write for better or worse, uncovering again deeper motivations (soul essence I gave to call it), never falling into plain critique nor praise but demonstrates we are all only human and how bizar it is that we play along at being human, sometimes, thankfully, reinventing ourselves thanks to intuition (which simply is female and hence so hard to access in a male dominated world.)

For me, Coventry made a seamless read onto Second Place; where as the little cooking pears of the themes in her essays are reddened by our sympathetic understanding and elated appreciation, later we find Cusk shows us where to pluck plump golden pears of inner resolve, to savour straight from the tree. Coventry made for me a collection of meditations, as an exploratory work of the eternally feminine suppressed until it triumphs simply. (Always and only in the individual. Forget joining a group. Usually when at an age past the obligation put upon us to accept roles the existence of men ascribe to us: which could work for any and all genders.)

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