A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
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? And why is she so reluctant to talk about her past?
"A sophisticated confection . . . For this delightful novel about the governess from hell, maybe only the word 'wicked' will do."—The New York Times Book Review
"A brilliant oxymoron—a serious farce so subtle that its command of the reader must called insidious . . . Bright, candid, and modestly humorous, Stella Benson lures us into complicity . . . Cusk's ability to keep us interested in innumerable human collisions is uncanny. We may finally learn Stella's secrets, but she remains as fascinatingly indecipherable as anyone we know."—The New Yorker
"An oddly ingratiating social comedy . . . Smart, literate, offbeat, confiding . . . A pleasure."—The Boston Globe
"Hilarious . . . Stella is strange because strangeness is part of the human condition; she's just a little more aware of it than most people."—Village Voice Literary Supplement
"Enchanting . . . A funny, modern Jane Eyre combined with an Anne Tyler-esque tale about escaping from the pressures of an unhappy urban life."—Newsday
"Smart, charming, and often outright hilarious."—Entertainment Weekly