Rachel Cusk's Transit is the second part of a trilogy, the first part having been Outline, a book I loved. That was the story of Faye, visiting a Greek island and meeting people who tell her interesting stories about their lives. Now Faye is back in her homeland, Britain, divorced and the mother of two young boys. She's found a place to live, but unfortunately it's the second floor flat above an older couple who despise her and her children. In an attempt to put some distance--and sound barriers--between them, Faye hires a builder to rip out the floor and rebuild it with greater insulation.
In the meantime, as she goes about her daily life, she meets people who talk to her and again, tell her stories about their lives. Some of these people she already knew, some she's just meeting for the first time. The word "transit" takes on several meanings; there are scenes involving transportation, there are discussions of life transitions, even astrology. Many of these stories are unhappy and can be summarized by a discussion Faye has with her hair stylist while getting her hair colored:
"'A lot of people,' [the stylist] went on, 'say it's because what they see in the mirror doesn't feel like them. I say to them, why doesn't it? I say, what you need isn't a colourwash, it's a change of attitude. I think it's the pressure,' Dale said. 'What people are frightened of,' he said, lifting the back of my hair to look underneath, 'is being unwanted.'"
I didn't find this book as successful as Outline. Partly because while this method of "the narrator tells us what others tell her" seemed fresh and interesting the first time around, here it feels more predictable and a bit plodding. There are some beautifully written parts, and some memorable characters, but I didn't get lost in it the way I did with Outline. Still, I'll read the third book when it comes out.