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The Master Bedroom [Paperback]

Tessa Hadley
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Sep 2008

Kate Flynn has always been a clever girl, brought up to believe in herself as something special. Now Kate is forty-three and has given up her university career in London to come home and look after her mother at Firenze, their big house by a lake in Cardiff. When Kate meets David Roberts, a friend from the old days, she begins to obsess about him: she knows it's because she's bored and hasn't got anything else to do, but she can't stop.

Adapting to a new way of life, the connections Kate forges in her new home are to have painful consequences, as the past begins to cast its long shadow over the present...

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

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099499266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099499268
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 446,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"A luxuriant writer... the richness of her descriptions need only be matched by the imagination of the reader" (Washington Times)

"Closely observed, beautifully written, generous, funny and true, Hadley's fiction is the real thing" (Sunday Times)

"A sharp and a sexy read" (Observer)

"Bewitching ...A prose stylist of quite outstanding talent with a gift for psychological acuity and an ability to encapsulate the human condition...As a writer, she is the real thing, utterly authentic in motive and achievement" (Guardian)

"A lovely, subtly teasing writer...Hadley's observations of the ebb and flow of female desire and frustration are reminiscent of Virginia Woolf, but she taps sensual undercurrents where Woolf wouldn't have dipped her toe" (New York Times)

Book Description

A marvellous third novel by a writer described by the Guardian as a 'rare and startling gem'.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Kate Flynn, forty-three years old, decides to leave her university career as a lecturer in Slavic studies, to return home on a year's sabbatical to care for her mother, Billie, who is in the first stages of senile dementia. Home is a large, crumbling old house in Wales called Firenze, where Billie was born and has spent her life and where Kate was also born in the huge, old-fashioned master bedroom.

Shortly after settling back home (after a moment's panic where she asks herself what was she thinking of to give up her job and her London flat), Kate meets up with David, the brother of her old friend, Carol. Before she knows it, Kate finds herself becoming very attracted to David, who is going through an unsettled period with Suzie, his second wife. Suzie heartily dislikes the classical music that David loves - a passion that is shared by Kate - and soon David and Kate are spending time together attending concerts and sharing their love of music. However, although Kate's feelings for David continue to grow, she begins to realize that he doesn't feel quite the same way and, when David's seventeen-year-old son, Jamie, shows that he wants Kate sexually, she acquiesces, and then finds herself in a difficult situation that has painful and far-reaching consequences for all involved.

I really enjoyed this novel (which, although quite different, in some ways reminded me of Mary Wesley's Second Fiddle) and though it must be said that Kate is not an entirely admirable character, she is an interesting and complex one, and Hadley describes her situation so deftly and perceptively that I found myself empathizing with her despite my initial misgivings.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Redescribing What Everybody Already Knows 14 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the characters in this novel divides her English graduates into `Tolstoy' and `Dostoyevsky' types. It is reasonably clear that the first type is to be preferred to the second - provocatively dismissed as `two-a-penny' - a sardonic comment on the relationship between literature and life not untypical of this author. But in terms of atmosphere, theme and tone, it is neither Tolstoy nor Dostoyevsky whose influence pervades this sad and subtle evocation of provincial life: it is the influence of Anton Chekhov, a writer less interested in type, perhaps, than in situation.

Kate Flynn, a clever and articulate university lecturer, having made a mess of life in London, returns to her home city and makes a mess of life there. On the car journey down, she is involved in an unusual accident, which throws her into deliberately unaffirmed contact with Suzie, the second wife of David Roberts, younger brother of one of Kate's old friends. The accident, though quite within the parameters of the normal, is endowed by Suzie with uncanny significance and acts as the catalyst for a period instability in her marriage to David. Whilst Suzie experiments with the alternatives, the dutiful but now isolated David finds himself intellectually, if not physically, attracted to Kate, who does not permit him to perceive that she has herself become obsessed with him. Meanwhile David's adolescent son by his first wife, initially intrigued by the arrival of a woman who knew his mother before the latter committed suicide, soon develops an obsession of his own. A series of events that seem sometimes determined, sometimes fortuitous; sometimes deliberate, and sometimes utterly unconsidered twist the relationships of these four characters in more or less predictable directions.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Could not get into this 22 April 2014
I really wanted to like this book, because it was well-written and evoked the atmosphere of the old house very well. I just couldn't care at all about any of the characters, especially Kate. Someone else said she was complex - I didn't think she was complex at all, just boring in the way that only utterly selfish people can be. Maybe that was the author's point, but it doesn't make for a very attractive read. Some other reviewer said something about provincial life, I don't know what that was about, Cardiff is a metropolis after all, maybe viewed from London it's the provinces, gosh, English people are so annoying at times.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and believable 4 Mar 2009
I loved this novel. The characters were very vividly drawn and believable . Even the minor characters came to life. I thought the depiction of the relationships between the characters: mother/daughter; a troubled marriage; old friends; between young and old were all fascinating and to me, completely plausible. Loved her writing style too - I'll definitely look for more by Tessa Hadley.
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