The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy (Paperback)

The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy By Rachel Cusk Cover Image

The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy (Paperback)

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A vivid and elegant memoir of a family’s season abroad by the author of the Outline trilogy.

When Rachel Cusk decides to travel to Italy for a summer with her husband and two young children, she has no idea of the trials and wonders that lie in store. Their journey, chronicled in The Last Supper, leads them to both the expected and the surprising, all seen through Cusk’s sharp and humane perspective.

Rachel Cusk was born in Canada in 1967 and spent much of her childhood in Los Angeles before finishing her education at St Mary's Convent, Cambridge. She read English at New College, Oxford, and has travelled extensively in Spain and Central America. She is the author of six novels. The first, Saving Agnes (1993), won the Whitbread First Novel Award. A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother (2001) is a personal exploration of motherhood. In The Lucky Ones (2003) she uses a series of five narratives, loosely linked by the experience of parenthood, to write of life's transformations, of what separates us from those we love and what binds us to those we no longer understand. In 2003, Rachel Cusk was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. Her latest novel is Outline (2014).

Product Details ISBN: 9781250828248
ISBN-10: 1250828244
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: January 4th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English

“Each sentence is crisply perfect, binding brilliantly detailed descriptions to sensitive, sharp observations.” —Bookforum

“A fascinating inquiry into expectations and our desire to rigidly control our lives.” —Los Angeles Times

“[Cusk] examines the whole notion of travel, investigates the consolations of art in an increasingly disfigured world, and writes about food and landscape in prose that constantly reminds us what language can do.” —TLS

“Enthusiastic, curious and observant . . . Cusk is a natural and gifted writer from whom dazzling descriptions, analyses, metaphors and similes gush forth in rich profusion . . . Delightful and perceptive.” —Daily Telegraph

“Elegantly written and astutely observed . . . Cusk's assessments of art are wonderfully idiosyncratic . . . Rigorous and compelling.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A writer of almost electrifying intensity . . . [Cusk's] rigorous intellect is always at play, whether she's writing about a tomato or a tomb, and it is this very archness, this passion, that gives her beautiful, moving book such power. Indeed, her detailed examination of the tiny nuances that embroider family life gives her account of her Italian summer the kind of luminosity she seeks, and finds, in visual art.” —Hilary Fannin, The Irish Times

“Cusk is often bracing and rigorous, . . . applying her phrases like the brushstrokes of the masters she so admires. This is the finest memoir of Italy I have read since--twenty years ago more or less--Jonathan Keates' Italian Journeys made Italy suddenly seem irresistible and present in all its dimensions. Cusk makes Italy sing.” —Tom Adair, The Scotsman

“[Cusk] writes with the intelligence, wit, and keen eye for detail demanded by any kind of reporting.” —The New Yorker

“A rich meditation: on separation, on possession, on Renaissance artists, and, inevitably, on the transformative nature of travel.” —The Times

“Whether considering language, food or national habits, she has an amazing ability to strike at the heart of things, to look afresh and not overlook.” —The Guardian

“There's a reason for the unrelenting stream of literature about moving to Italy—it's everyone's fantasy. Cusk details her family's three-month tour of the country in this delightful romp through rented villas, Amalfi beaches and plenty of pasta and gelato.” —More

“Engaging. . . 'The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy' is not your typical rosemary-scented, ready-for-cable ode to renovating a rustic house and rubbing shoulders with jolly peasants. . . . The author approaches everything she sees through the prism of history and literature, allowing herself to be captivated by her surroundings even while she is trying desperately to detach herself from the tourists all around. Cusk may hate tourists--her descriptions of them are usually hilarious and sometimes cruel--but she makes a passionate, sharp-tongued tour guide in this book about fleeing the ordinary in search of something beautiful.” —Salon

“Charming, restless, idiosyncratic hybrid of classic family road trip and probing personal essay where the roadside attractions include Pompeii, the Basilica of Saint Francis and Etruscan tombs, and the big questions on aesthetics and truth and human nature that such sites elicit are smartly explored . . . improvisatory and sensual.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Unlike day-tripping tourists, the thoughtful visitor doesn't know in advance what will seize her attention. A basket of bread and tomatoes, a Raphael Madonna, a storm that breaks with terrible beauty over the Ligurian coast, the progressively gothic hostelries through which the travelers wend their way home: All are fleetingly illumined by Cusk's exquisite prose, though none more hauntingly than the predawn English countryside, "like a sleeping baby . . . somehow new and unmarked,'' from which they set off for their summer abroad.” —Boston Globe

“Cusk takes us from Tuscany and Umbria south to Naples and Capri, writing throughout in the present tense, which makes the journey more immediate, and in the minimalist shorthand of a Raymond Carver short story: ‘The fireflies scatter in drifts, like embers'; ‘There is a bang at the door: It is a man.' There are several nice takes on food, history and landscape, and splendid observations on artists, as when she writes of Cimabue, that ‘he restored to the painted human form its softness and mortality, its animal nature and the grandeur of its emotion.” —Providence Journal

“British novelist Rachel Cusk's The Last Supper is a perceptive account of the pleasures and perils that resulted from uprooting her family from England to the Italian countryside for a winter” —Travel + Leisure, "Great Summer Reading"