In 2001 Rachel Cusk wrote a memoir called A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother. When this first came out I thought I might like it, an intelligent, educated woman’s take on the transition to motherhood. Then I read more reviews that put me off: who wants to read about colic, I thought, so I gave that one a pass.
In 2006 Cusk wrote
This is a depressing book, but also fascinating, especially if you are a mother. She captures so perfectly the madness that sometimes accompanies motherhood: the claustrophia, the impotence, the tiny rages, the paralysis, the feeling of isolation, the sense that nothing matters but everything matters, and she does so in perfectly wrought, microscopically detailed prose. A trip to the shopping mall is described in faultless detail, down to the plants that surround the fountain and the sound of the air filtration system. This might sound boring, but it isn’t, thought it also isn’t always pleasant to read. The women’s ambivalence toward their children is presented with shocking honesty. But I know that I am not the only mother who read this and remembered the days that I used to fantasize about just getting in my car and driving away.
Here are reviews from the Guardian of both A Life’s Work and
(Book 3, 2008)