Arlington Park, by Rachel Cusk

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Shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize, Rachel Cusk's sixth novel is set in a rain-ridden world of stifling domesticity and suburban aspiration. Overwhelmed by the burden of motherhood and impressing the neighbours, they spend a lot of time musing on "the feeling of lead" in their veins and the freedom of their husbands. Cusk can achieve a fine poetic precision, but this is a novel weighed down by its metaphors.