Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...frowning in her sleep, she seemed more and not less mysterious...", 27 Mar 2010
This review is from: Sunstroke and Other Stories (Paperback)
I enjoyed this collection of short stories from Tessa Hadley. Yes, everyone in every story is relentlessly middle-class and Hadley is overly indulgent, in a way, towards her subjects, but they are also measured, realistic, charming and sometimes very touching. I'm thinking especially about the last story here, 'Matrilineal', which describes a row about Helen's jazz alto-saxophonist husband wanting some practice-time and proposing to do it in their flat, which has an elderly couple on the floor below, who are abnormally sensitive to noise. After the row he goes to a gig and Helen, his wife, packs a large suitcase and takes the children off to her mother's flat above a hairdressers. We see the journey and the one night's stay from the point of view of the eldest daughter, Nia, who is, I'm guessing, around five or six (of course, he comes after them in the morning and they are reconciled the moment he walks through the door). This child's eye-view is, it seems to me, handled with an assured and beautiful set of apposite details (the enjoyable novelty of getting on a bus, Nia's fear of the hair-dryers they have to negotiate to get to the flat upstairs, her thrill at being able to sleep in the same bed as her mother, the child's lovely sensuality at the physical closeness). Then, years later on a trip to New York, her mother denies that any such incident ever occurred. She has simply forgotten it and Nia doesn't challenge her. This, near-perfect in execution, is, for me, the best story in the book.
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3.5 out of 5 stars (6 customer reviews)
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£8.99 £7.23
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Location: Leeds, England

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