This is the first novel by Rachel Cusk, whose Outline Trilogy that came out in the last couple of years is about as good as any serious novel in the same time. This novel is a little different, told from the outside instead of the interior, so the effect is that it’s about a character instead of within a character. Agnes Day (yes yes pun intended) is neither a fortunate nor unfortunate young woman who finds herself in adulthood ill-equipped to not only be an adult, but to even really understand what is adulthood anyway. But the effect is less that she’s lost within it, but more so lacking the language and grammar to even conceive of it. She’s plugging along, more than anything. She’s living in a flat with friends, Nina, the well-read and acerbic feminist, and others. Agnes is looking for love, but doesn’t seem to know how or what is to be loved. So when she starts dating John and things more or less move forward, she thinks things are working just fine. She realizes at some point that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes and that he, her friends, and even her family are keeping her in the dark on a number of issues.
This novel follows a character who seems to feel like she’s come into a conversation in media res and is not even expected to follow along or catch up on her, but is not remotely regarded in the conversation. The tone is both funny and quiet and sad at the same time, and the style and feeling of the novel feels about 20 years older than it really it. (It has a false feeling of anachronism to this effect).