Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley review – marriage under the microscope   Leave a comment

Tessa Hadley

Tessa Hadley’s great success as a novelist lies in the way she conforms to received ideas of good writing. Rather than trying to “make it new” by blurring the distinctions between fiction and autobiography, for instance, or following other recent trends of a broadly Sebaldian nature, she delivers clear narrative lines, creates strongly visualised characters who speak in coherent sentences, and concentrates on the familiarly recurring patterns of human experience. Love; time and its passing. Does this mean there’s too much conservatism in her work? Maybe, but generally she offsets this danger by examining her characters with an unusual degree of psychological subtlety. Her particular strength is to combine a deep excavation of human frailty with compassion for its effects.

Late in the Day, her seventh novel, is no exception. On its small and tightly worked canvas we encounter two couples living in London in their late middle age, as well as a small number of their children and hangers-on. They have known each other, in various configurations, most of their adult lives. And it’s the end of one of these lives that precipitates the drama. Zachary, a wealthy gallery owner, suddenly drops down dead, leaving his wife Lydia to be cared for by Alex, a primary school head, and his wife Christine, a moderately successful painter.

Read the full article at The Guardian


Posted February 22, 2019 by Peter Mathews in Uncategorized

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