Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Married Love," by Tessa Hadley - WOW!

As I have written before (7/12/11 and 7/13/11), every time I read something by British writer Tessa Hadley, I get that “WOW!” feeling that tells me I am reading something original, something with the power to surprise. Her latest collection of short stories, “Married Love” (Harper Perennial, 2012) amply confirms that feeling. Each story is a gem, a mini-novel, a small masterpiece. The characters are original yet recognizable, as are the situations in which they find themselves. What happens when a teenaged student marries her professor who is old enough to be her grandfather? How does each member of a young couple in the 1960s feel when she/he brings the other to meet her/his family? What is it like for three middle-aged adults to reunite 35 years after they had been playmates at the home of their mutual godmother? What change in fortune reverses the social statuses of two childhood friends from different backgrounds? These and other situations are very character-driven, and are almost always located in the setting of family lives and relationships. They often deal, very subtly, with social class and gender, but never in a didactic way. I had to stop myself from galloping through the stories, because they were so compelling. Slow down and savor them, I had to tell myself. And they are definitely worth savoring.

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