Thomas Bradshaw and Tonie Swann are experiencing the classic symptoms of marriage in its middle years: comfortable house, happy-enough daughter, and an eerie sense that life might be happening elsewhere. Then Tonie accepts a big promotion at work and Thomas agrees to become a stay-at-home dad.
While Thomas is suddenly faced with the daily silence of an empty house, Tonie finds herself alive to previously unimagined possibilities. And at the head of the family, the aging Bradshaw parents continue their marital dynamic of bickering and petty undermining.
The seventh novel by the acclaimed author of the Outline trilogy, Rachel Cusk’s The Bradshaw Variations is a lyrical, subversive tale of a marriage unraveling.
“Cusk, who won Britain's prestigious Whitbread Prize for her debut novel, Saving Agnes, is a first-rate writer, caustically intelligent and sharply observant . . . Pretty much every page [of The Bradshaw Variations] gleams with Cusk's darkly humorous powers of observation.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review
"Astonishing . . . Like a genius gem cutter, Cusk continues to brazenly flout the pure realism that dominates current literary fiction in favor of a Woolfean approach that uses style and sensory impressionism to chisel out inner turmoil. The Bradshaw Variations is a timely, necessary story . . . I'm escaping to the metaphorical forest with a pile of Cusk novels. I hope you'll be brave enough to join me."—Miranda Purves, Elle
"Frighteningly sharp . . . [I was] affected and moved, [and] at times I just wanted to punch the air in a frenzy of delighted recognition . . . Every single one of these honestly drawn and heartsinkingly recognizable characters . . . gave me real, crackling pleasure . . . This isn't the first novel of Cusk's to make me laugh out loud, but it is the first to have really moved me . . . She shows here that she also has a generous understanding of families and relationships, of the sweet, ridiculous fragility of human experience . . . Her triumph is to make us laugh at, but also I think forgive, ourselves."—Julie Myerson, Financial Times (UK)
"Again and again [Cusk] provides that primal joy of literature: the sense of things being seen afresh."—James Lasdun, The Guardian
"A virtuoso . . . [Cusk's] interiors whisper and shiver, as if Virginia Woolf had flitted through . . . It is the author's mix of scorn and compassion that is so bracing. Sometimes she complicates simple things, snarling them in a cat's cradle of abstraction, but just as often, a sentence rewards with its absolute and unexpected precision . . . [Cusk] has a task and she applies herself to it soberly: the trapping, if only in a mirrored surface, of some fragment of reality that might yield a truth about the whole."—Hilary Mantel, The Guardian
"Brilliant . . . Cusk is marvellous on the way that one generation watches another and it is her own watchfulness that makes her novel so special. She combines restlessness with absolute stillness; she misses nothing . . . In a sense, [this book] is a modern Mrs. Dalloway . . . I enjoyed everything about this dazzling performance of a book. I was engrossed, entertained and converted . . . This, Rachel Cusk's seventh novel, is her best."—Kate Kellaway, The Observer (London)
"Cusk is mercilessly acute in her dissection of the Bradshaw family. Their failures are exposed by her scalpel prose. It makes the reader feel rather protective of them, which is a clever trick. It allows Cusk's characters human breath beyond the high art of her writing . . . I know I will keep thinking about them."—Helen Brown, The Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Cusk is a gifted writer who has a knack for razor-sharp characterizations."—Publishers Weekly
What is art? Thomas Bradshaw asks himself this question frequently. He does not yet know the answer. He used to believe art was a kind of pretending, but he doesnâ€™t think that any more. He uses the word authenticity to describe what...