Renny’s Review

Novel connects with readers through finding common ground


Rachel Cusk’s Outline

Renny Acheson, Staff Writer

If you’re looking for a book that challenges the limitations of literature, Rachel Cusk’s Outline does that and more. Published in 2014, Outline follows the trip of a recently-divorced British author and professor Faye to Athens, where she is scheduled to teach a multiple-day writing course. Throughout the story, Faye introduces herself to various characters that she meets while abroad, beginning with the man next to whom she sits on her flight to Athens. Perhaps the most captivating aspect of the novel is the introduction of these characters through their conversations with Faye.

The reader gains valuable insight into the lives and histories of people who enter the story naturally, through interactions with Faye. The characters develop themselves, recounting stories of their pain, disappointment, heartbreaks, joys, unsolved mysteries, and more. As these characters reveal their pasts, Faye begins to unearth her own emotions and insights about the life she lives and has lived. Eventually, readers will notice how common ground can be found through storytelling, and how this vulnerability leads to strong, durable connections.

Cusk’s novel pushes the reader into an exploratory realm, where they are the observer of two people sharing a conversation. Almost like watching a documentary, we absorb the information at the same rate that Faye does, creating a reading experience that is joyfully interactive. Outline is merely the first in a trilogy, so readers will get to bear witness to more of Faye’s enchanting conversations in the future.