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Married Love Paperback – 3 Jan 2013
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"The stories collected in Married Love tend to announced themselves with a crash ... before resolving into quieter reflections, like musical overtures in which strings follow brass. Whether it is in examining the mellowing of a marriage in the title piece, or recounting the progress of a one night stand ("In the Cave"), Hadley writes of ordinary lives with a gracefulness unequalled among her peers" (Independent on Sunday)
"Few writers give me such consistent pleasure" (Zadie Smith)
"She has such great psychological insights into human beings, which is rare. She is one of the best fiction writers writing today" (Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie)
"Occasionally – very occasionally – a book feels like a gift, something unexpected, exhilarating, life-enhancing. Tessa Hadley’s second collection of short stories is such a book" (The Times)
"One of the most subtle and sublime contemporary writers" (Vogue)
Tessa Hadley has joined the ranks of Posy Simmonds, Helen Simpson, Colm Toibin, Katherine Mansfield and Rachel Cusk as a national treasure.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Nevertheless I'm going to try one of her novels, because there, surely, she has to have a plot.
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. "The Culverts threw themselves into these games, once they got started, with an extravagance that was almost a mania. For the word `wrist', Reverend Culvert put on a green silk dress and minced up and down with his wife's handbag, drooping his wrist and exclaiming `dear me, ducky'. Neil looked frankly astonished".
Tessa Hadley writes with perceptive insight and her descriptive language is so good it enables her to introduce her characters, and to then develop these characters in the space of a few sentences, so that we are immediately interested in them, and this is important when writing short fiction where there is little time to engage with a character or situation. I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection - some a little more than others, but would say that they are all worth more than one reading, so it's a good book to keep by your side for when you have a few minutes to yourself, but don't want to get involved in a full length novel. I shall certainly re-read these stories at some point in the future, but that will be after the rest of my family have borrowed the book - and that's fine, because these short stories are really too good to keep to yourself.
Also recommended by the same author: Sunstroke and Other Stories.
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, whoops...it 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.
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.