Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
A Life's Work: On Becomin... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother Paperback – March 1, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$19.00
$7.99 $0.01

The Numberlys Best Books of the Year So Far
$19.00 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother
  • +
  • Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation
  • +
  • Outline: A Novel
Total price: $51.55
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking an unsentimental approach to one of the most dramatic changes in a woman's life, British novelist Cusk (The Country Life) dissects the process of new motherhood from a psychological and emotional perspective. Now the mother of two, Cusk found the early weeks and months with a dependent newborn far from idyllic and rewarding, and her description of that time fills in the gaps left by most pregnancy and child-rearing books. Her dry, honest style is a refreshing change for anyone seeking to understand the daily realities of undertaking such an enormous responsibility. Despite a tone that is at times bleak and foreboding, Cusk perfectly captures the inherent conflict between the pleasures known before baby and those that the baby brings, noting, for example, "it is when the baby sleeps that I liaise, as if it were a lover, with my former life," but "sometimes I miss the baby and lie beside her cot while she sleeps." Cusk details her struggles with the major tasks all new mothers face, like feeding and sleep, and she addresses the challenge not only to do what is best for the baby, but also to maintain a sense of self and autonomy in the face of such constant, overwhelming need. Although not a cheerful baby shower gift book, Cusk's brutal honesty will certainly be appreciated by many new moms, assuring them they are not alone. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

"If at any point in my life I had been able to find out what the future held, I would always have wanted to know whether or not I would have children," writes Cusk, an award-winning British novelist, in her nonfiction debut. The clarity of her writing matches its depth of content, as Cusk endeavors to discover what it means to be a parent. Ultimately, what Cusk offers is an expos‚ of motherhood that extracts its myths and reworks them into personal truths. She reexamines the teachings of traditional child rearing books to find that their once relevant answers are now outdated and only served to increase her feelings of inadequacy as a mother. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book is its accessibility, allowing mothers from all situations and backgrounds to unite in understanding. Recommended for all public libraries.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311308
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Important Information

Ingredients
Example Ingredients

Directions
Example Directions

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I couldn't wait to read this book because 1) I really enjoy Rachel Cusk's novels and 2) I had just become a new mother.
I was not disappointed--Rachel tells it like it is. She talks about all the difficult and ambivalent feelings of becoming a mother that most of us have kept to ourselves.
The regret and the irrationality, the pride and protectiveness, the "out of body" experience that nobody can prepare you for--Rachel describes it all. With a great sense of humor and humanity, this book helped me make sense of my own experience of new motherhood.
Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rachel Cusk's A Life's Work is an insightful, honest, and sometimes hilarious account of pregnancy and early motherhood. The author tells the story of her own metamorphosis from independent entity to "motherbaby" unit in rough chronological order: from the alarmist literature of pregnancy, which "bristles with threats and the promise of reprisal" for expectant mothers who violate dietary prescriptions; to the propaganda of natural childbirth advocates ("Some women find birth the most intensely pleasurable experience of their lives"), those souls who maintain that a procedure akin to, say, squeezing a cantaloupe out of one's anus can be rendered nearly pain-free, indeed "pleasurable", by the simple adoption of an embarrassing breathing technique; to a mother's shocking, sudden immersion into an alien world of sleeplessness and isolation. (The immediacy of the metamorphosis is brought home to the author soon after she delivers her daughter by caesarian: "Do you want to try putting her to the breast? the midwife enquires as I am wheeled from the operating theatre. I look at her as if she has just asked me to make her a cup of tea, or tidy up the room a bit. I still inhabit that other world in which, after operations, people are pitied and looked after and left to recuperate." )

Cusk's account is a quick read, her prose very often elegant. She hits a number of nails squarely on the head--in her descriptions of the constant demands made on breastfeeding mothers, for example, or the drama and tension inherent in bringing a baby out into the public, or one's cautious anticipation of freedom when it looks like the kid may finally sleep.
Read more ›
Comment 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was not familiar with Ms.Cusk's work prior to reading this book. I am a new mother and A Life's Work was recommended to me.

Her voice is one that is not heard in books about motherhood. My thougths echoed in her words.

Pregnancy and motherhood has been humbling, humiliating and exhausting. I love my daughter but I never could have anticipated the emotional journey I was embarking on.

Rachel Cusk does not put a pretty pink wash on everything. It is a clean true voice.

I recommend this book to any woman trying to find where she has gotten lost in her life.
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Cusk is a good writer, and I know that many mothers have found her account of the downside of motherhood to be comforting--just as I did. However, I found her to be a bit too intellectual and too verbose at times.

A quote: "When I care for my daughter I revisit my own vulnerability, my primordial helplessness. I witness that which I cannot personally remember, my early existence in this white state, this world of milk and shadows and nothingness."

There was way too much of this type of language in my opinion. I'd like to compare this book to the Mother Knot by Jane Lazarre, another book which outlines the complexity of motherhood--both the light side and the dark side. Jane is an intellectual also, and she can write in a poetic fashion too. But most of the time she writes in plain, simple language, telling us of the sameness of her days with her young son and highlighting both the highs and the lows she experiences.

Cusk does write simply sometimes, and many of her descriptions of her frustrations will resonate with many mothers. There is one particular story which I'll always remember which I never thought that I'd see in a book--it matched my experience so perfectly. She'd put her daughter to bed, deciding to let her cry herself to sleep (something many of us decide to do after being pushed around by an infant tyrant for a while!). The crying stops and she goes to check on her, only to find the child in a sitting position with her hands on the bars of the crib, fast asleep, with her cry face frozen in place--as though her jailer had abandoned the child to her misery. This is exactly what happened to me once when my daughter was in the second half of her first year of life. And we both had the same reaction.
Read more ›
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this to be an unbelievably honest chronicle of one woman's ambivalance regarding her journey into the world of motherhood and all that it entails. This is not a how-to advice book so people should look elsewhere for that. Rather, it is a literary masterpiece in my opinion-full of humor and honesty at the sometimes ridiculous moments that one endures when figuring out how to take care of one's own baby. For example, she describes with vivid detail a breastfeeding clinic she attended that was prefaced by sitting in a sweltering, packed waiting room filled with mothers and babies: "The other women laugh and talk loudly, their faces flushed with the room's heat. They manhandle their babies distractedly, turning them this way and that...They flail and grizzle, their red little faces peevish as the faces of old men. Bonnets and booties and mittens on strings fly from agitated limbs. The babies boil like a row of angry kettles." p 100.
This book is filled with the humor and imagery of the foolish and sometimes insufferable aspects of mother hood which I find a huge relief. In Cusk's voice I hear the sense of being a stranger in a strange land and I can totally identify. I have two daughters and found her voice to be my own (if I could write brillaintly, that is.)
Whether describing her c-section or her reaction to the ever-popular mother's group, I found myself agreeing and at times laughing out loud. I read passages to my husband stating, "See, this is exactly how I feel."
When I read some of the negative reviews, I think they may misunderstand her writing. If becoming a mother knocked your sense of self out the window and you recognize that there is ambivalence and humor in all aspects of the journey for you AND your child, then you will find gain something from reading this book.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?