Outline - Rachel Cusk


I wanted to like this book, I really did.

After reading, and hearing so much praise of, Outline, (which was shortlisted for The Baileys Prize, and written by a woman that works at my university) I went to my local Waterstones, picked up the book, and began to read it whilst lounging in my garden, that very same afternoon.

I love the concept of this book - We follow the day to day life of a woman teaching at a summer school in Greece. In each chapter she shares the stories of the people that she comes into contact with: the guy she sits next to on the plane, her work colleague, a neighbour etc... but did I love the actual novel? No.

For me, there was nothing driving the plot forwards. No secrets to uncover. No mysteries to solve. Nothing intriguing about the narrator/secondary characters. Nothing. I personally find novels without a story arc disappointing, and this was no exception.

To be fair, I did only read fifty-four pages, but nothing within those fifty-four pages inspired me to read further. We learn that the narrator, whose name was not mentioned, is a divorced mother of two, flying to Athens to teach a summer school, and that is it. Everything else is purely circumstantial.

In spite of this, I am not writing the novel off just yet! I am under the impression that Cusk keeps the narrators identity a little hazy, as she wants to draw more attention to the other characters, which given the fact that we learn almost nothing about the narrator in the first fifty-four pages, she has done this quite well. Her vibrant descriptions, that evoke imagery and empathy alike, are much like Stephen King, for which she can only receive praise!

Should you read this book?
I could be bias, and tell you not to go near it with a ten foot stick, but I am not going to do that. Despite the lack of story, the novel has been written very well, and the lives of the people the narrator comes across are interesting in places, just not interesting enough for me to want to keep reading. I would recommend you read it, yes, but only if placid 'story-lines' are what gets you going.

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment here!