Second Place

A Novel

by Rachel Cusk

On Sale: 05/04/2021

Second Place

Enlarge Book Cover

Second Place

A Novel

by Rachel Cusk

On Sale: 05/04/2021


International Dublin Literary Award

O, The Oprah Magazine 55 of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021

TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books

Publishers Weekly Top 10 Books of 2021

Governor General’s Literary Award

Kirkus Reviews Best Books

CBC Books Best of Canadian Fiction

Globe and Mail Top 100 for 2021

Booker Prize

Walrus Best Book of the Year

New York Times Critic’s Top Books

National Book Critics Circle Award

About the Book

Longlisted for the Booker Prize

On O, The Oprah Magazine’s list of 55 of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021

On a sun-soaked Parisian street, M, a mother on the brink of rebellion, wanders into a famous artist’s gallery show. The artist’s paintings speak—quite literally—to her, promising a liberation usually reserved for men. She returns to the coastal home she shares with her husband, but the unsettling impression of the art, and the evasive artist, remains. So she writes to him, inviting him to stay in their second place, a modest cottage salvaged from the land.

When historical catastrophe upends daily life, M’s daughter returns to the marsh, along with her prim, privileged boyfriend. The painter arrives too, accompanied by a lithe, cosmopolitan lover. As the couples become resigned to the perilous indoors, fissures form within the strange group. The painter’s quietly demonic presence wreaks havoc with M, plunging her into existential disarray. As secrets, alliances and private desires come to light, she is forced to choose between her deepest impulses: to comply or to rebel completely.

Like her acclaimed Outline trilogy, Rachel Cusk’s Second Place transcends its form. Inspired by Lorenzo in Taos, Mabel Dodge Luhan’s 1932 memoir about the writer D. H. Lawrence’s fraught visit to her communal property, the novel hovers between past and present, Gothic and contemporary, fable and truth—and continues to haunt us long after we’ve looked away.

Critical Praise

“Cusk is at her best when she works in diversions, as she does with the deceptive simplicity of Second Place. The novel is skillfully meandering, offering consistent flashes of insight while traversing a great deal of intellectual terrain. The drama is tight and the action straightforward, but when it comes to the beguiling complexity of human nature, the wisdom offered here is significant.”  — Quill & Quire

“Cusk, as always, is brilliant at the subtleties of human dynamics, which here are as ever-changing as the landscape against which they’re set.” — Toronto Star

“Cusk is as brilliant as ever at revealing the tumult that occurs when people with varying strengths of personal will come into close contact with each other. Second Place is the kind of book that requires re-reading, but also rewards it.” — Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“[Second Place] is engaging, and so thought-provoking that it may well cause readers to re-examine their own lives. . . Cusk captivates the reader, her asides and interpretations astute, often funny and memorable.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Cusk has dressed an incisive meditation on the meaning of art in a delicious psychodrama about three couples communing in the woods.” — Chatelaine


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781443458740
  • ISBN 10: 1443458740
  • Imprint: Harper Perennial
  • On Sale: 05/04/2021
  • List Price:11.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Fantasy / Historical
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / General

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