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Not available in stores. Agnes Day is mildly discontent. As a child, she never wanted to be an Agnes-she wanted to be a pleasing Grace. Alas, she remained the terminally middle class, hopelessly romantic Agnes. Now she''s living with her two best friends in London and working at a trade magazine. Life and love seem to go on without her. Not only does she not know how to get back into the game, she isn''t even sure what the game is. But she gives a good performance-until she learns that her roommates and her boyfriend are keeping secrets from her, and that her boss is quitting and leaving her in charge.

In great despair, she decides to make it her business to set things straight. Saving Agnes is a perceptive, fresh, and honest novel that has delighted readers and critics on both sides of the Atlantic. The following ISBNs are associated with this title:. ISBN - X. ISBN - Look for similar items by category:. Cusk has heart and depth in abundance, and Saving Agnes showcases both.

Exquisite and sometimes diabolical. Sometimes Agnes grated on me, but I think that she's meant to do so. Dec 18, George rated it liked it. An interesting, densely written first novel by Cusk about Agnes Day who is in her 20s.


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She lives with two college friends, working as a sub-editor and is unsure of herself and how to behave with her friends. The first half of the book is filled with interesting, thoughtfully packed, detailed sentences and makes for a slowish read. Agnes and her housemates, Merlin and Nina are fairly ordinary type people in their 20s trying to make sense of things, none in a permanent relationship and 3. Agnes and her housemates, Merlin and Nina are fairly ordinary type people in their 20s trying to make sense of things, none in a permanent relationship and all at the beginnings of their careers.

Mar 29, Leora Bersohn rated it liked it. Rachel Cusk's writing is witty, intelligent, aesthetically pleasing, yet somehow not very warm. I've been reading and enjoying her since the Library Journal sent me Arlington Park to review some years ago, but I've never shaken the feeling of being held at bay. Never quite sure what that distant quality was in Cusk's work, I've wondered guiltily whether I expect female authors to present themselves as my best girlfriend, or whether after all these years of studying British literature, being marr Rachel Cusk's writing is witty, intelligent, aesthetically pleasing, yet somehow not very warm.

Never quite sure what that distant quality was in Cusk's work, I've wondered guiltily whether I expect female authors to present themselves as my best girlfriend, or whether after all these years of studying British literature, being married to an Englishman, etc. Feeling somewhat absolved after reading this one, which I'm pretty sure is Cusk's first, given the subject-matter: a year or two after graduating from a prestigious university with a degree in English, Agnes feels lost.

Her job at a trade magazine seems like pointless drudgery, while her classmates and brother are earning a fortune in finance and management consulting. She misses her caddish, manipulative college boyfriend and dates a man who is almost entirely absent, even when in the same bed. Living with her close friends from college, Agnes watches a large crack in the house wall widen, threatening collapse, and fissures appear in the roommates' relationships as well.

Whether containing elements of autobiography or not, it also provides an insight into that unique cold or unknowable quality in Cusk's work. Though Agnes has roommates, a boss, a colleague, a lover, parents, and a brother , all of whom appear, the novel is deeply inside Agnes's head, threshing out every nuance of emotion she experiences, rehashing every childhood idiosyncrasy and remembered slight. If these are not details from Cusk's own precocious childhood, I'm not sure why she'd take the trouble to make them up. While they flesh out a portrait of a semi-eccentric as a young woman, they indicate solipsism on either the character or the author's part.

People around Agnes often find her annoying, as does the reader, and yet we are meant to sympathize with her, and we mostly do. When she wrote this novel, Cusk a was either a rookie making the common mistake of thinking every personal detail worth including in her semi-autobiographical novel, or else she was already a master of the form intentionally creating an only semi-likable ingenue and playing hide and seek with the reader's sympathies.

Damned if I know which is right. Jul 28, Emily rated it liked it. There were days when she sat until the afternoon died in to darkness, her eyes raking the classified pages in search of she knew not what. Models wanted for mail order catalogue. Commis chef required. Earn hundreds from home--own transportation essential. It was the same There were days when she sat until the afternoon died in to darkness, her eyes raking the classified pages in search of she knew not what. It was the same drift of soul and mind towards perfection, and to Agnes the thought of perceiving the world without this dimension was to see only shadows and not the things which cast them.

Moreover, it made her suspicious of Tuesday; a day whose unrelenting tedium was deceptively camouflaged by the mere fact of its not being Monday. Wednesday, on the other hand, was touch and go, delicately balanced between the memory of the last weekend and the thought of the weekend to come. Wednesday was a plateau, and dangerous things could happen on a plateau. For example, one could forget one was in prison at all. Thursday was Agnes's favorite, a day dedicated to pure anticipation.

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By then she was on the home stretch, sprinting in glorious slow-motion toward the distant flutter of Friday's finishing line; which, however, when reached, often felt to her like nothing but a memento mori of the next incarceration. Personal reasons. She disliked underselling the drama of her turbulent heart. Nov 19, Lily Patchett rated it it was amazing. She had always known she was meant to feel things. She had believed she was special, so open was she to pain and love.

Or was it only that she indulged such emotions to protect herself from any lengthy contemplation of duller things: boredom, loneliness, failure, all of the things which hovered outside the door like tax inspectors, vigilant and malign? Nov 05, Sanjay Varma rated it liked it Shelves: novels. I have mixed feelings.

Saving Agnes

At one point, I simply could not bear to start another chapter, and had to put the book down. The author treats her subject Agnes like a laboratory animal. Each chapter unfolds as a dreary, heavy, horror story about a girl who I have mixed feelings. She pretends to fit in and finally lives in near panic about being discovered as a fake.

Dazzling language and ideas, but the repetition is too depressing. Then suddenly, around chapter sixteen, the style abruptly changes. Agnes is now strong and principled, cooly dealing with the most difficult situations with ease. But the author achieves the makeover with a mysterious concept of switching fates. After a few weeks, this experiment ends and the family resumes calling her Agnes, but she has a funny feeling that she is not herself anymore.

Almost like a changeling! Agnes grows up to be an adult, starts dating an aloof boyfriend, and one day they visit a hedge maze. She emerges from the maze, and suddenly seems to fit in the world again. Her vitality and confidence have been restored. Jul 06, Karen Angelico rated it liked it. I give three stars for the writing, but perhaps two for the story.

Saving Agnes | Faber & Faber

Reading Rachel Cusk is like taking a workout in a word gym. There are some lengthy, wordy expositions on simple thoughts and ideas that other, more Hemingway-esque writers would put across in a sentence. Not a bad thing necessarily and that is Cusk's style, but sometimes I yearned for a "less is more" attitude. This is her debut novel however and her later work does seem to have more balance to it.

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Aside from the technical aspects I give three stars for the writing, but perhaps two for the story. Aside from the technical aspects of the writing, this novel is a subtle, humorous not laugh out loud- perhaps more wry than witty take on the twenty-something angst of Agnes.

Not particularly a page turner in terms of plot, but I did want to know what happened to Agnes and it kept me going. I did find the ending - where things all tied up nicely - was not totally realistic and felt too cliche for me. There was too much overt guiding of the reader to think certain things about work, life, love etc and it was a bit too neat for me.

As a debut novel though, well done! On the plus side, this offers plenty of spot-on descriptions of places and people in the less affluent boroughs of London and the leafier parts of the home counties. On the negative side, the narrative is rather static and the central character not good enough to anchor the story. Agnes is the kind of conflicted, unself-aware young adult who sleeps around in the doomed hope of finding true love that way, and picks fights with those who whose material success she attributes to a lack of idealism On the plus side, this offers plenty of spot-on descriptions of places and people in the less affluent boroughs of London and the leafier parts of the home counties.

Agnes is the kind of conflicted, unself-aware young adult who sleeps around in the doomed hope of finding true love that way, and picks fights with those who whose material success she attributes to a lack of idealism her yuppy brother Tom. Individually many scenes are rather good but the book as a whole never really takes off. Jun 24, Al rated it did not like it. I don't know how this book found its way to my reading list, but it obviously was lost. Three pages in, I knew I would never make it to the end, but I gave it thirty pages more, just to be sure, before I closed it for good.

Agnes perhaps Rachel is an awkward young woman seeking to fit into the world. Cusk has a number of clever, even funny, insights into the difficulties Agnes faces, but they don't serve to overcome the fact that it's just hard to care about what may happen to Agnes. At leas I don't know how this book found its way to my reading list, but it obviously was lost. At least, I didn't. Don't think I'm going to get any further with this - it's going straight back to the charity shop.

I liked her personal memoir on motherhood, but this failed to grab me in any way - totally unengaging characters, convoluted sentences, and a general dismal atmosphere that made me want to move on instantly to something more cheerful. Maybe if I read more I would discover why it won the Whitbread, but I'm too old to waste the time it would take.

And indeed, I didn't get any further so I've now given Don't think I'm going to get any further with this - it's going straight back to the charity shop. And indeed, I didn't get any further so I've now given up on it. Dec 26, cydell rated it liked it. Could we all be Agnes if we tried less hard and allowed ourseleves to be carried along? Very possibly. Longterm, low volume self-doubt and lack of agency lead Agnes through a series of events which seems to take her by surprise, but which surprise the reader not at all.

A contemporary -and slightly more uplifting - successor to Anita Brookner. Cusk could lose a few words in mo Could we all be Agnes if we tried less hard and allowed ourseleves to be carried along? Cusk could lose a few words in most sentences, but despite this I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Jun 20, Olivia Loving added it.

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Also very relevant to this period in my life. I had to force myself to read it slower, because I found I was missing a lot. Nothing really happens - it's similar to "Breathing Lessons" by Anne Tyler in that way - but that's the point. But if you easily become bored by books where nothing happens, I'd say don't read it.

I don't think my mom, for example, would like it.

Recommended by Curtis Sittenfeld, who is my favorite author, and though I still prefer her, this had an element of mys Amazing. Recommended by Curtis Sittenfeld, who is my favorite author, and though I still prefer her, this had an element of mysticism to it that I loved. Jul 30, Yuko rated it really liked it.

I read this when it first came out in '93; it really resonated with me as I was the same age as Agnes, living in London, going through some of the same things. I wonder if I would enjoy it as much now? I have fond memories of it and I found it witty, refreshing and funny in a painful way. It really captured my post-university years. Oct 15, Damyanti Biswas rated it liked it.

This began pretty slow, but as I persisted, I got behind Agnes. I'm a great champion of the underdog, so while the literariness of the book made me happy, the hope of a happy ending for Agnes kept me reading -- by the end I really cared about her. But the book did not move me terribly, and I remember no passages from it -- other than the beginning -- where the writer describes the scene after a party. If you like well-written books with women central characters, you might enjoy it. I wanted to like this, but it was too wordy and not enough happened.


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  6. It seemed very familiar share house, first job, parties, first love, loser boyfriend, work mates, parents, 20s angst which meant there was nothing that made Agnes stand out. I liked Merlin the most and wanted him to have a happy ending. I remember this as a novel about a woman that has a relationship with a ghost Other than that, I remember a cannibal rabbit really! Mar 04, Mimi rated it it was ok. I don't know why but this was a difficult book for me to get through. I found her sentences complex and I had to keep re-reading them.

    I just never got too engaged with Agnes. I've read great things about the author, so I'm going to take the blame and figure I just didn't have my brain fully functioning for this. Every sentence, so it seemed, had a simile and when everthing is like something else, it all seems the same. Oct 07, Matt Hunt rated it it was ok Shelves: , london , depressing. This was an odd book.

    It's really nicely written and enjoyable to read but didn't do anything to encourage me to keep reading it. I got about the thirds of the way through it and then, meh. Sorry Agnes, I hope all your troubles worked out okay in the end and you get a bit less whingy. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. Literary Fiction. About Rachel Cusk. Rachel Cusk. Rachel Cusk was born in Canada, and spent some of her childhood in Los Angeles, before her family returned to England, in , when Cusk was 8 years old.

    She read English at New College, Oxford. She has Rachel Cusk was born in Canada, and spent some of her childhood in Los Angeles, before her family returned to England, in , when Cusk was 8 years old. She has won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes: her most recent novel, Outline , was shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Goldsmith's Prize and the Bailey's prize, and longlisted for Canada's Giller Prize.