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Married Love Hardcover – 5 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224096427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224096423
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.1 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 574,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


These are quiet stories that challenge easy understandings of interpersonal dynamics and show the full complexity of human emotions. With humour and a lot of wit, Hadley elevates local, emotional relationships so that they completely eclipse any need for plot. (Emily Firetog Irish Times)

Hadley is a kind of serious, literary version of the cartoonist Posy Simmonds - no middle-class foible goes unobserved, and every emotion is traced back to its source. (SAGA)

Tessa Hadley returns to the fray with a gem-filled story collection that could serve as a masterclass in the art of short-form fiction writing. (Sunday Business Post)

Time and again, Hadley's prose unearths little treasures in the everyday... And she's as sharp as Alan Hollinghurst or Edward St Aubyn on the cruel comedy of English manners, which makes the unswerving compassion of these stories only more exceptional. (Thomas Marks Literary Review)

[O]ne of the most subtle and sublime contemporary writers. (Charlotte Sinclair Vogue)

Book Description

A masterful new collection from one of the most accomplished storytellers of today.

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 31 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This attractively presented book is Tessa Hadley's second collection of short stories; the first story (of twelve) carries the title of the book and is the wonderfully amusing tale of Lottie, who at nineteen, and the youngest of a large and close-knit family, announces one morning at breakfast that she is to marry someone at her university. However her fiancé is not a fellow student, but a lecturer, Edgar Lennox, a composer of religious music who just happens to be forty-five years her senior - and already married. In the space of twenty pages we learn what happens to Lottie after she marries Edgar; about their home, their three children and their hopes and desires. It is a story of dreams versus daily reality, family members versus spouses, and a very good story to start this collection of enjoyable short fiction.

I particularly enjoyed: 'A Mouthful of Cut Glass', set in the 1970s, about two young people, Neil and Sheila, who meet at university and decide to visit each other's homes as the next step in their relationship. Neil is from a working class family and Sheila is the daughter of a vicar living in a large rectory in the country. Although Neil has not tried to conceal his working class origins (in fact it has gained him some creditability at university), when Sheila visits him in his home, their difference in upbringing seems so much more apparent than at university, where they are on mutual ground. When they both go to Sheila's home, the way of life at the vicarage seems totally alien to Neil especially when he has to join in a game of charades with the vicar and his wife and Sheila's eight brothers and sisters. This section of the book had me laughing aloud as poor Neil has to be dressed up as a shepherd, while Sheila's sisters frisk around his feet as sheep baaing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Lewis on 8 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book very frustrating. There is no doubt that the author writes well and intelligently and can set a scene and introduce characters. But for my money I need a point to a short story. To my mind these stories have no point. I suppose, to be fair, this sort of short story can be compared to an impressionist daub. But when I get to the end of it I say to myself "so what?". The art of short story writing, at any rate short story writing that pleases me, is to make a point. These stories just tale off into nothing and there seems no rhyme or reason why they should end when they do.
Nevertheless I'm going to try one of her novels, because there, surely, she has to have a plot.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Valerian on 17 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In my opinion, this collection is all about what happens when the lives of people from different orbits collide unexpectedly, and what takes place as a result. Those different orbits could be due to factors such as class, personality, age, or society's constructs of who a person 'is' or 'should be'. The characters find themselves undergoing a gentle revelation as a result of this collision. They find new inner strength, or a sexuality they'd normally bury, or a new tolerance for someone they previously couldn't stand, or a more jaded view of life, or their prejudice turned on its head.

The endings of these stories aren't neatly tied up. They don't clobber you over the head. They're as subtle and open-ended as real life, and they left me thinking over what I'd just read, and about the changed perceptions - my own and the character's.

I found the plots cleverly unpredictable and the descriptive writing excellently subtle. I love lyrical, understated films and books, so I enjoyed this very much.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
British author Tessa Hadley has written 12 short stories in a book, "Married Love". If you're familiar with Hadley's stories, you might want to check the table of contents because most of the stories have been previously published in the "New Yorker", "Granta", and other magazines in the US and the UK. If you're not familiar with her writing, then these stories will be new and enjoyable.

I'm not a big fan of short stories because I find them rather frustrating to read. Just as I'm getting into a story, ends. Uh, what happens next? What happened to the characters I've gotten interested in? Too bad, dear, it's on to the next story. Tessa Hadley's stories had the same effect on me. She does such a good job setting her characters and story together that in a second...gone.

But, then I figured, "Hey, I like cupcakes". Sometimes, if I'm not really hungry and just want a touch of sweet, a cupcake will do better than a cake. Maybe short stories are the same thing. Certainly Tessa Hadley's stories are fulfilling in themselves. Did I want some to go longer? Of course I did.

Hadley writes about everyday people in everyday life, but with a twist. Almost all are set in current times; one is set after WW1. They're the stories about a brother's suicide, a young woman marrying a man 45 years older than she it, three god-children meeting after the death of their god-mother, a family reunion, and other looks at small periods of time in a character's life. A slice of cake, a cupcake...rather than the whole cake. Tessa Hadley is an excellent writer and if you like short stories, you'll like her work.
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