Not to be an Eleanor Catton groupie, but I said I thought there were some good bits of prose in The Rehearsal. Let me look at my highlights and pluck out three favorites.
“If I am to teach your daughter, you darling hopeless and inadequate mother, she must be moody and bewildered and awkward and dissatisfied and wrong. When she realizes that her body is a secret, a dark and yawning secret of which she becomes more and more ashamed, come back to me. You must understand me on this point. I cannot teach children.”
“Mrs. Tyke,” she says, “you would very much like, I think, to sew your children’s hands to your waistband, just to keep them with you always, their little legs swaying when you hurry and trailing on the asphalt when you stroll. If you turned on your heel very fast your children would fan out around you like a sunburst pleated skirt.
Neither the boys nor the girls really regarded the other as a rival: each sex was competing in parallel, vying only against their own. As a result the girls were cautious and deceitful with each other but bright and flirtatious with the boys; the boys, in turn, laughed loudly and publicly when they were addressed but in the meantime they sat apart from each other and watched the girls form their swift bonds of togetherness and false sympathy with something between bewilderment and scorn.