Since quitting work to look after his eight-year-old daughter, Alexa, Thomas Bradshaw has found solace and nourishment in his daily piano study. But his parents and in-laws wonder why he has swapped roles with Tonie Swann, his intense, intellectual wife. And how can this be good for their daughter?
Tonie is increasingly seduced away from domestic life by the headier world of work, where long-forgotten memories of ambition are awakened. She finds herself outside their tight family circle, alive to previously unimaginable possibilities.
Over the course of a year full of crisis and revelation, we follow their fortunes, and The Bradshaw Variations shows Rachel Cusk to be a lyrically subversive writer at the height of her powers.