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on 22 March 2017
A good book to read when travelling as the short stories are interesting and mostly not too long
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on 8 January 2014
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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on 14 September 2017
The first few of these felt slight, inconsequential and frayed at the edges, but eventually it became obvious that that - the human reality of them - was their charm. Another book to be re-read and re-savoured.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 31 December 2011
This attractively presented book is Tessa Hadley's second collection of short stories and 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' which is set in the 1970s and 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 - 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.

4 Stars.

Also recommended by the same author: Sunstroke and Other Stories.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 May 2012
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, 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.
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on 17 December 2012
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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on 4 August 2016
The stories were almost like an introduction or preface to a novel; I wanted to know what happened next and most of the stories ended in mid air!
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on 25 August 2015
Some quite different short stories, giving an intimate look into lives that are sometimes quite ordinary, sometimes less so.
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on 19 June 2015
I didn't realise this was a collection of short stories but very well written
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on 17 February 2013
An excellent series of voyages into relationships and the class divide. 'Cut glass' is especially good. The notion that a hard working man, from the labouring classes, comments that he probably earns the same as the (well educated)
vicar is memorable. The good address - the vicarage- hides a lack of cash. It cannot hide the unattainability of a middle class life for the working class man and his family.
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