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Publisher's Summary

A woman invites a famed artist to visit the remote coastal region where she lives, in the belief that his vision will penetrate the mystery of her life and landscape. Over the course of one hot summer, his provocative presence provides the frame for a study of female fate and male privilege, of the geometries of human relationships and of the struggle to live morally between our internal and external worlds. With its examination of the possibility that art can both save and destroy us, Second Place is deeply affirming of the human soul, while grappling with its darkest demons.

©2021 Rachel Cusk (P)2021 Faber Audio

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  • David M
  • 28-07-2021

Analytic and Reflective

This is a re-write of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s 1932 memoir Lorenzo in Taos, about DH Lawrence’s chaotic stay at her artists’ colony in New Mexico, where he ended up threatening to “destroy” his hostess. That was partly written in the form of letters to the poet Robinson Jeffers.

This is paralleled in this book when the un-named "M" invites renowned artist "L" to stay for an indefinite period in her family's second home (or place). The story is told in the form of a long letter to an unexplained "Jeffers". (Perhaps we are expected to have already read the 1932 Luhan book.)

Not much action, but much is made of the rather toxic relationship between the two main characters, and between M and the rest of her family, the meaning of life, time and reality.

The book gives the reader plenty to think about and is not onerously long. Long-listed for the Booker Prize, but I don't think it has what it takes to eventually win.

Kate Fleetwood does a reasonable job of reading for us, until she comes to doing voices. Her voices are so bad it's distracting.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.