A Life's Work On Becoming a Mother

Rachel Cusk




Trade Paperback

228 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
The experience of motherhood is an experience in contradiction. It is commonplace and it is impossible to imagine. It is prosaic and it is mysterious. It is at once banal, bizarre, compelling, tedious, comic, and catastrophic. To become a mother is to become the chief actor in a drama of human existence to which no one turns up. It is the process by which an ordinary life is transformed unseen into a story of strange and powerful passions, of love and servitude, of confinement and compassion.

In a book that is touching, hilarious, provocative, and profoundly insightful, novelist Rachel Cusk attempts to tell something of an old story set in a new era of sexual equality. Cusk’s account of a year of modern motherhood becomes many stories: a farewell to freedom, sleep, and time; a lesson in humility and hard work; a journey to the roots of love; a meditation on madness and mortality; and most of all a sentimental education in babies, books, toddler groups, bad advice, crying, breastfeeding, and never being alone.


Praise for A Life's Work

“[I] found it fascinating, but I also found it dangerous. An incitement to riot . . . it’s an extraordinary piece of work and the writing is utterly beautiful . . . I laughed out loud, often, in painful recognition.”—Esther Freud, author of Hideous Kinky

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Rachel Cusk is the author of the acclaimed novels The Country Life and Saving Agnes. She lives in England.
Read the full excerpt


  • Rachel Cusk

  • Rachel Cusk is the Whitbread Award–winning author of Saving Agnes, The Temporary, The Country Life, The Lucky Ones, and In the Fold, and of the memoir A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother. She lives in Bristol, England.
  • Rachel Cusk Adrian Clarke