17 December 2012

Book Review: Married Love

Title: Married Love and Other Stories
Author: Tessa Hadley
Publisher/Year: Harper Perennial / 2012
Source/Format: TLC Book Tours / Print
Date Finished: 16 December 2012
Book # 69

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

The Short and Sweet of It
Because I am incapable of summarizing a short story collection: "Married Love is a masterful collection of short fiction from one of today’s most accomplished storytellers. These tales showcase the qualities for which Tessa Hadley has long been praised: her humor, warmth, and psychological acuity; her powerful, precise, and emotionally dense prose; her unflinching examinations of family relationships. Here are stories that range widely across generations and classes, exploring the private and public lives of unforgettable characters: a young girl who haunts the edges of her parents’ party; a wife released by the sudden death of her film-director husband; an eighteen-year-old who insists on marrying her music professor, only to find herself shut out from his secrets. In this stunning collection, Hadley evokes worlds that expand in the imagination far beyond the pages, capturing domestic dramas, generational sagas, wrenching love affairs and epiphanies, and distilling them to remarkable effect."

A Bit of a Ramble
I was struck by the quiet reserve of most of these stories. These are tiny portraits of relationships, most of which are not perfect, some of which are perfectly ambivalent, a state of being rather than a value judgment on that state of being.

As with many short stories I have read, plots seem unfinished, characters not quite fully developed; in this instance, however, this feels intentional and effective. Readers are given snapshots of everyday life, or sketches of people, that may not give the whole picture but do offer just enough for a truth to appear. These tiny moments in the characters' lives are a microcosm through which readers can derive a more universal reflection (and possibly an evaluation) of reality.

Many people, when reviewing a short story collection, discuss individual stories, their favorites or the ones they feel are most representative; however, I cannot do that this time around. I started scribbling down some notes about individual stories but found that I wanted to say so much about each one that this would be the longest review ever.

It is enough to say that I honestly believe you should read this one for its simple beauty.

NOTES: I received this for review from TLC Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other reviews.


  1. I like short story collections that leave you thinking and perhaps wondering what happened after the story's conclusion, so this sounds perfect for me. It sounds like an interesting group of stories, and one that I would like to explore. I think you did a terrific job with the review today!!

  2. I think these days I'm ADHD, so I'm not sure the combination of short stories and quiet reserve would be enough to entertain me. I have to be in the right mood!

  3. I'm learning how to appreciate a short story. In the past, I always wanted more but now I'm getting satisfied with a glimpse and then tiptoeing away.

  4. I don't often read short story collections but then something like this comes along and shows me what I've been missing.

    Thanks for being on the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


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