Stella Benson sets off for Hilltop, a tiny Sussex village housing a family that is somewhat larger than life. Her hopes for the Maddens may be high, but her station among them, as au pair to their irascible son Martin - is undeniably low. What could possibly have driven her to leave her home, job and life in London for such rural ignominy? Why has she severed all contact with her parents? Why is she so reluctant to talk about her past?
The Country Life, Rachel Cusk's third novel, is a rich and subtle story about embarrassment, awkwardness and being alone; about families, or the lack of them; and about love in some peculiar guises.
Rachel Cusk was born in 1967 and is the author of six novels: Saving Agnes, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award, The Temporary, The Country Life, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Lucky Ones, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award, In the Fold and Arlington Park, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Her non-fiction book A Life's Work was published to huge acclaim in 2001 and her memoir The Last Supper was published in 2009. Her latest novel is The Bradshaw Variations. In 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta's Best of Young Novelists. She lives in Brighton.