A compelling story of modern manners, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2005
The Hanburys of Egypt Hill are the last word in bohemian living - or so they like to think. Their parties are famous, their relationships confusing, their bravado immense. To Michael, a young student arriving at the house on the hill for Caris Hanbury's eighteenth birthday party, they represent the prospect of relief from the strictures of conformity, and of an enfolding exuberance to which he feels irresistibly attracted.
As an adult, Michael finds his own version of the Hanburys. The Alexanders are a wealthy, artistic family for whom moral abandon is almost a point of honour, and their fractious daughter Rebecca is now Michael's wife. While Rebecca struggles with questions of identity and self-expression, Michael becomes increasingly preoccupied with the idea of virtue. Why is his life with Rebecca and their son Hamish so destructive and tumultuous? How has his existence become so tarnished, so without principle?
When Michael is invited to spend a week with the Hanburys on Egypt Hill his illusions are startlingly confounded. The hill is being spoiled by development; the family are riven by jealousy and deceit; and as the days pass the rotten core of the Hanbury myth is gradually disclosed.
Rachel Cusk was born in 1967 and is the author of four novels: Saving Agnes, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award, The Temporary, The Country Life, which won a Somerset Maugham Award and The Lucky Ones, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award. Her non-fiction book A Life's Work was published to huge acclaim in 2001. In 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in Bristol.
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