Aftermath by Rachel Cusk
Subtitled On Marriage and Separation, Aftermath is the ever-divisive Rachel Cusk's brutally honest memoir about her divorce from her husband and its effects on both her and her children. Further, the book—a follow-up of sorts to Ms. Cusk's 2003 memoir A Life's Work—also explores the impact of divorce on women in general.
Reviewer: Lisa Appignanesi
"This is the truth of Cusk’s narrative. If her probing is sometimes clinical, it is also full of beauty – the beauty of language struggling to reveal an experience which is complex and scored with doubts and pain."
Reviewer: Melissa Holbrook Pierson
"It is a testament to Cusk’s talent that she was able to make something of it that would not set fire to the reader, only raise the occasional blister; it was she, the newly divorced, who was rendered ash."
Reviewer: Julie Burchill
"I was a little disappointed, though, that she doesn't even attempt to capture the relief, joy and even wonder of divorce, at least on the part of the instigator (which she was)....But, on the whole, this is a predictably brilliant book."
Reviewer: Isabel Berwick
"Perhaps, in writing this book, she has helped herself to grasp towards an understanding of her new life. And perhaps that’s necessary for her, and it is beautiful, difficult and thought-provoking for the rest of us."
Reviewer: Liza Mundy
"... the book becomes more compelling as a restlessly erudite portrait of post-marital strife. The book's satisfactions lie in its cold-eyed probing of the "aftermath," which, as she tells us, is a second sowing after the initial harvest. And in its vivid use of image and metaphor..."
Reviewer: Alison Pick
"Of her ex – whose truancy must, by definition, be the book’s guiding principle – we learn almost nothing beyond a talent for making tortellini from scratch. Details of the separation itself – its antecedents, its execution – are also conspicuously absent."
Reviewer: Frances Stonor Saunders
"She should have thinned the clots of classical myth, and dumped altogether the bizarre final chapter, with its utterly disingenuous novelistic trick of resolution. This is writerly greed, swooping on everything and wringing meaning from it, transforming it into something else rather than just letting it be."
Reviewer: Emily Bazelon
"It’s the kind of memoir that made me long for writers who have more distance and perspective from their material, who are less inclined toward big-gun metaphors of Greek mythology and more inclined—at all inclined?—toward humor."
Reviewer: Emma Gilbey Keller
"Yet as a whole this book doesn’t work. Cusk’s biggest problem is her main character. Her self-absorption is still acute. The way she analyzes her every mood does not make her likable. Nor does it make for an interesting narrative. Frankly, the book is often tedious."