Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Bradshaw Variations - Rachel Cusk

When I was a child and teenager, I had read a decent proportion of the books available in my local library. This was due to the fact that the library in Macroom used to be quite small, and also due to the fact that I was an insatiable reader. I chose a lot of books without ever reading the dustcover and as a result I had some successes and some misses. One legacy of that random sampling is that I still consider Faber & Faber to be publishers of some of the vaguest, critically-lauded but still unreadable literature ever written.

This childhood observation of mine was unfortunately confirmed when I received a copy of The Bradshaw Variations from the Amazon Vine program. It's a nice slim hardcover book but it still took me a long time to read it. I literally had to drag myself through it.

The book centres on various members of the Bradshaw family and in particular, Thomas, Tonie and their daughter, Alexa. The traditional family roles are reversed when Tonie accepts a promotion to chair the English department in the university where she lectures and Thomas becomes a stay-at-home father to Alexa. Other characters are Thomas' brothers and their families as well as their respective parents.

The book tries to capture the tribulations of family life, but the writing is so detached that I found it hard to form any affection for the characters or their problems. Extremely unsatisfying.

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