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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling generational saga, 3 July 2013
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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! those serious discussions, the black coffee and corduroy jackets, models changing in cupboards, the wallpaper ,the decor, the parties, Also, the esoterics of University twenty years later followed later still by the directionlessness in which the young now could float.
I became very involved with the charcters; the skill of the prose almost echoing some of the beauty in Elizabeth Jane Howard's better bred Cazalets' saga and occasionally some of the intensity of Lawrence's `The Rainbow'.
Meticulously composed, this book is a very very good read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover this writer!, 22 Dec. 2012
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Kate......, 13 Dec. 2012
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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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Family Epic, 8 July 2011
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Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Tessa Hadley Makes Me Happy :-), 2 Jan. 2015
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Tessa Hadley's descriptive writing is fantastic. I love her characters and how her books and stories don't all have to end perfectly, wrapped up in a bow. They are like a stream of consciousness focusing on one part of the family then the next. She writes about characters I can really relate to and whose traits I see mirrored from real life (yes including Pearl, she is spot on, I disagree with the other reviewers!)

All in all a great writer.
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Everything Will be All Right
Everything Will be All Right by Tessa Hadley (Hardcover - 1 Jan. 2004)
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