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The Resource The past : a novel, Tessa Hadley

The past : a novel, Tessa Hadley

Label
The past : a novel
Title
The past
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Tessa Hadley
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Over five novels and two collections of stories Tessa Hadley has earned a reputation as a fiction writer of remarkable gifts, and been compared with Elizabeth Bowen and Alice Munro. In her new novel three sisters and a brother meet up in their grandparents' old house for three long, hot summer weeks. The house is full of memories of their childhood and their past - their mother took them there when she left their father - but now they may have to sell it. And under the idyllic surface, there are tensions. Roland has come with his new wife and his sisters don't like her. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice's ex-boyfriend, makes plans to seduce Molly, Roland's teenage daughter. Fran's children uncover an ugly secret in a ruined cottage in the woods. Passion erupts where it's least expected, blasting the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the oldest sister. A way of life - bourgeois, literate, ritualised - winds down to its inevitable end. With uncanny precision and extraordinary sympathy, Tessa Hadley charts the squalls of lust and envy disrupting this ill-assorted house party, as well as the consolations of memory and affection, the beauty of the natural world, the shifting of history under the social surface. From the first page the reader is absorbed and enthralled, watching a superb craftsman at work --
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
Hawthornden Prize, 2016.
Review
  • Siblings Harriet, Alice, Fran, and Roland gather at their grandparents’ ramshackle house deep in the English countryside for three weeks, ostensibly to decide what to do with it, now that their parents are gone. More than the site of an occasional family retreat, the old house is where their mother brought them when her marriage to their father was failing. Now, Roland is there with his new wife and teenage daughter, joined by Fran and her two precocious children, while Alice appears with the college-age son of a former lover. Only Harriet arrives alone, though ghosts and shadows accompany her just as surely as any flesh-and-blood partner. It’s close quarters at the isolated homestead, a veritable petri dish of regret and desire, recrimination and retaliation, all of which bubble up and smolder in dizzying fits of remorse and acceptance. Placing fraught family relationships under the microscope, Hadley (Clever Girl, 2014), wise and discerning, offers a subtle-yet-bold examination of complex emotional subtexts that have the power to bring kin together or destroy the bonds that would otherwise unite them. -- Haggas, Carol (Reviewed 11-15-2015) (Booklist, vol 112, number 6, p22 )
  • Not much happens in this sixth novel from Hadley (Clever Girl ), yet even its most quotidian events seem bathed in meaning and consequence. Set exclusively on the rambling grounds of a crumbling English cottage estate, the story follows four middle-aged siblings as they putter about their deceased grandparents’ home for three weeks, deciding whether or not to sell it. Split into three acts—two bookends that take place in the present, and one middle section that flashes back to their dead mother’s brief return to the cottage during a tumultuous time in her marriage—the book has the feeling of a disjointed structure. But like her previous works, it’s Hadley’s ability to probe the quirks of her characters’ psyches that makes this novel exceptional. Whether it’s the vain second-youngest sibling, Alice, and her habit of overcompensating for her brother’s and sisters’ inadequacies, or the introverted oldest sibling Hettie, and her secret obsession with her stuffy brother, Roland, and his sophisticated Argentinian wife (his third), Hadley has a knack for exposing each character’s most pressing vulnerabilities. Of special note are the scenes involving the teenagers at the house—Roland’s 16-year-old daughter, Molly, and Alice’s ex-boyfriend’s college-age son, Kasim. The lovebirds’ blooming infatuation with each other is palpable and awkward; it recalls the epic nature of falling helplessly, giddily in love for the first time. This is familial drama at its best—unabashedly ordinary yet undoubtedly captivating. (Jan.) --Staff (Reviewed November 23, 2015) (Publishers Weekly, vol 262, issue 47, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ With their quaint furniture, vintage linens, seashell collections, and sepia photographs, old country cottages have a definite mystique. So it is with the Crane family cottage, where the now-grown children were raised by their grandparents after their mother died and their father abandoned them and where they regularly return for summer vacations. Accompanied by various partners and offspring are Harriet, the introspective loner; free-spirited Alice; Fran, the wife of a musician; and Roland, the successful academic, who arrives with his stunning new Argentinian wife. While the adults gossip and argue over whether to spend money on the house in need of repair or to sell up and recoup their losses, the children are left to wander the woods and create mischief in a derelict house they find in the forest. The past intrudes upon the present in the revealing middle of the book, an episode in which their dreamy, impractical mother returned home, seeking an escape from her unhappy marriage. VERDICT A fresh take on a familiar story of fractious family reunions where old resentments resurface, new alliances form, and long-buried secrets are uncovered. A great read whether at the cottage or just dreaming of one. [See Prepub Alert, 7/13/15.]— Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. --Barbara Love (Reviewed October 1, 2015) (Library Journal, vol 140, issue 16, p69)
  • /* Starred Review */ Four middle-aged siblings reunite at their family home in the English countryside in Hadley's (Clever Girl, 2014, etc.) quietly masterful domestic portrait. They arrive one by one, gathering at the decrepit old house for what may be the last time (memories are one thing; the cost of maintenance is another): Alice first, artistic and sentimental; Fran, frazzled and practical, her two children in tow and her touring musician husband frustratingly absent; Harriet, the eldest, self-contained and dignified; and Roland, the only brother, distant and academic, newly married (for the third time) to an Argentinian lawyer the sisters have yet to meet. When he arrives with his new wife and 16-year-old daughter, Molly, the family is complete, plus one: Alice has brought her ex-boyfriend's college-aged son, Kasim, along, too. Nothing much "happens" in the novel or, at least, not outwardly. The siblings drink tea, they drink gin, they bicker; they mind Fran's children, Ivy and Arthur, watch romance bloom between Molly and Kasim, and allow the question that has brought them together—will they sell the house?—to be buried under the business of family vacationing: food preparation, child care, swimming. But inwardly, the sisters are in near-constant upheaval. Hadley expertly captures the gentle tragedies of living, losses, and regrets that are at once momentous and too quotidian to mention: aging, the passage of time, the fissures and slights and unspoken disappointments that simmer underneath the surfaces of all families. The melancholy drama here is not external but internal; not in facts or in actions but in thoughts. Broken up into three dreamy sections—two in the present and one set in the same house a generation earlier—the novel might seem overly precious if it weren't so bracingly precise. Hadley is the patron saint of ordinary lives; her trademark empathy and sharp insight are out in force here.(Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2015)
Assigning source
Source other than Library of Congress
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10457405
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Hadley, Tessa
Dewey number
823.92
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6108.A35
LC item number
P38 2016
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Families
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Families
Target audience
general
Label
The past : a novel, Tessa Hadley
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
311 pages
Isbn
9780062270412
Lccn
2015506403
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
(OCoLC)908262284
Label
The past : a novel, Tessa Hadley
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
311 pages
Isbn
9780062270412
Lccn
2015506403
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
(OCoLC)908262284

Library Locations

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      33.38561 -84.669793

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