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Everything Will Be All Right [Paperback]

Tessa Hadley
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2005

Joyce Stevenson is thirteen when her widowed mother takes them to live with Aunt Vera, a formidable teacher neglected by her unfaithful husband. Joyce watches the two sisters - her aunt's unbending dedication to the life of the mind, her mother worn down by housework - and thinks that each of them is powerless in her own way.

For Joyce, art school provides an escape route, and there she falls in love with one of her teachers. When she marries and has children, she is determined to manage her relationship with a new freedom, and to save herself from the mistakes of the previous generation. But her daughter Zoe, growing up, comes to see Joyce as a bourgeois housewife, and when Zoe has a baby of her own, she demands more from motherhood...

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Everything Will Be All Right + The Master Bedroom + Accidents In The Home
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (3 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099462001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099462002
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Bewitchingly compelling... Gloriously addictive, delectably enjoyable... the reader is snared and kept captive to the last... Exquisite" (Guardian)

"Hadley's fiction resembles that of Anne Tyler in aiming to illuminate ordinary life" (Sunday Times)

"Genuinely exciting" (New Statesman)

"Seductively written" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Engrossing... This book is marvellous - a paean to the quiet splendour of life" (Time Out)

Book Description

The acclaimed second novel from the author of The London Train.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover this writer! 22 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tessa Hadley is a wonderful writer. She's excellent both describing the texture of everyday life and the nature of relationships, especially family dynamics. This novel is not quite as tightly plotted as her later ones - eg. London Train and Master Bedroom - but it's a fantastic read. Had me totally absorbed. I could describe it as a family saga, since it follows generations of women (particularly mothers) and the ways they react to the same sorts of situations: love, childbearing, and how to express their own creativity. But that really doesn't do it justice because it's so acute on reactions and relationships. The review above mentions Alan Hollinghurst, which I think is an excellent comparison, because Hadley has the same relish for language and alertness to social mores, but her fiction is perhaps a little more attuned to domestic life and particularly to the ways in which families develop. Loved it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Kate...... 13 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I agree with Kate - for me, Pearl was too bad to be true (although she certainly takes after her father, another piece of work).
Curiously, I came to this after finishing Hollinghurst's novel and found myself reading another 4-generation saga; Tessa H.'s is much less pretentious and all the better for it (although she shows she certainly knows a lot about painting and literature). The big difference is that she can interest us in her characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling generational saga 3 July 2013
By Owly
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had enjoyed so much `The Master Bedroom' and `The London Bus' and eagerly looked forward to Tessa Hadley's newest novel`Clever Girl'but found this so disappointing that I hankered after the earlier pleasurable reads and so bought `Everything Will Be All Right'.
I was not disappointed this time. I would not say that I could not put the book down but that it was always a very great pleasure to pick up! Tessa Hadley follows the lives of the women of a family from the early fifties to late nineties picking up on the zeitgeist of each strand of their society at the time, as well as the emotional and historical lives of Joyce, her daughter Zoe and then Zoe's daughter Pearl.
The story is skilfully constructed so that we meet Pearl on the first page with Joyce on a brief voyage to seek the house of Joyce's childhood taking with them her now elderly Aunt Vera. The lives of the sisters Vera and Lil, Joyce's mother, are seen through Joyce's eyes as the story proper begins with Joyce as a child.
Some of the strands of lives past that are depicted for us involve: an independent girls' grammar school in the early fifties where Aunt Vera is a teacher & Joyce a pupil, a city Art School in the late fifties where Joyce is a student and Cambridge in the seventies where Zoe is a student.
The struggles of marriage are a common theme and in particular the very gradually improving behaviour of the male! The book could almost be seen as a brief study of male dominance and very gradual erosion of chauvinism as women gain a stronger voice. Though as Pearl tells her father in the early 1990s "There's a long way to go before (males become) bland Dad!"
But O the detail of Art School life in the fifties and sixties!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Family Epic 8 July 2011
By Kate Hopkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A beautifully-told tale of a family over four generations, focussing on a woman from each generation. I particularly enjoyed Aunt Vera's obsession with a good education and 'the life of the mind' and her husband Dick's philandering, Joyce's experiences at art school and her romance and later marriage to the charismatic but difficult Ray, and Zoe's time at Cambridge. Hadley really cares about her characters in the same way as the great 19th century novelists (George Eliot springs to mind). The only reason I wouldn't give this five stars is that I think Hadley weakens when describing Zoe's daughter Pearl, who appears to be a horribly spoilt brat with virtually no redeeming features at all! This means the last bit of the novel falls slightly flat - all the same, it's a wonderful read and one I'll re-visit several times, I think.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the great writers of our time 18 Dec 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Tessa Hadley is a truly great writer, of the Alice Munro/William Trevor tradition, but with a slightly more modern sensibility. It's too bad not more people seem to have heard of her (she has published a good number of excellent stories in the New Yorker) but my guess is that will change over time. If you like intelligent women's fiction, read this author!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling characterizations 13 Feb 2005
By Myfanwy Collins - Published on
Tessa Hadley's Everything Will Be All Right is a lovely and compelling book. The narrative spans several decades in the lives of one family-and more specifically, in the lives of the women of the family. Three of the women in particular-Aunt Vera, the groundbreaking teacher; Joyce, the would-be artist; and Zoe, the brilliant scholar-lead us on the journey from post-WWII England to present. What we learn is that as the world around them changes at ever increasing speed, this family stays the same, particularly in their eventual acceptance of each other and in their gravitation to the the center--the women.

Hadley's writing is clear and often beautiful without being over the top, but the mastery of this novel is her ability to create and maintain characters. They simply live and breathe and stay in the room with the reader long after the book is finished. I was taken with this book from first word to last and would recommend it without reservation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous writing, insight. Don't want it to end. 7 Mar 2011
By Dorothy Terrell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read a story by Tessa Hadley in The New Yorker, and was so struck by her
perfect descriptions of states of mind that I quickly ordered several more works by
her. The best, which startles me with its articulation of subtle emotional states and events -
the birth of a first child, for instances - Everything Will Be All Right -- is so compelling that
I don't want it to end.
4.0 out of 5 stars Another well-written novel by Tessa Hadley 20 April 2013
By AnandaK - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoy Tessa Hadley's novels, which are often mostly from a woman's point of view. The author moves through time in a family of women, whose relationships, interests, and paths intertwine, often based on men in their lives. But it's really the women who are of interest. No one is perfect; the characters are real enough. The author can form a character that has a history and a trajectory that make sense in the overall scheme of things. Point of view is through the eyes of several different characters, and usually I don't like that, but it works. There is also a lot of wit in the novel. I liked it, though maybe not as much as some of her other novels. Still, I would recommend it especially to readers who want a woman's point of view.
4.0 out of 5 stars Hadley 28 Mar 2013
By ChristophFischerBooks - Published on
Unlike her other work this book seemed difficult to get into and the multitude of characters was too confusing for me to settle in. Although masterfully written in terms of prose and style I was slightly disappointed.
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