16 November 2012

Imprint Friday: Married Love and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Some of you may be familiar with Tessa Hadley from her critically acclaimed novels or because you've read her short stories in The New Yorker. I, however, had never read her work until now. Her latest collection, Married Love and Other Stories has made me a fan, and I plan to explore her backlist.

Here's the publisher's summary.
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.
Most of the stories in Married Love look at modern relationships--within families, marriages, and friendships--and how they become warped and changed through time. On the surface, Hadley writes about everyday scenarios, such as families in conflict, social class divisions, and old friends meeting after many years apart. But Hadley gives these situations a unique slant, digging just a bit deeper to find a darker, hidden layer.

The stories that resonated with me most were those in which Hadley carried the plot into the future, past the initial turning point, allowing us to see the effect of time on the characters. For example, in the title story, Hadley doesn't leave us in the early days of the marriage between student and teacher. She skips through the years so we get a glimpse of a harried mother of three who has lost the spunk of her youth. In "Post Production," we return to the family on the anniversary of the film director's death to learn that even from the grave, he is a binding force.

Hadley's writing is both simple and thoughtful, and I found myself rereading paragraphs just to fully absorb her words. The following passage is one of many that stuck with me. The quote is from the story "The Trojan Prince," which is about a teenage boy who missed the Great War and has decided to test himself by going to sea. Here the crew is forced to abandon ship during a storm:
When it's his turn, apprentice James McIlvanney can't get rid of the idea that everything is happening in a story, to someone else whose role he seems to be carrying off convincingly. To his relief it turns out that this someone is not a coward: he's resourceful and determined and strong enough. Here he is, swinging above the terrible sucking water, above his certain death if he falls in. (p. 67)
And another from the opening page of the title story, "Married Love":
The kitchen in that house was upstairs, its windows overlooking the garden below. It was a tall, thin, old house comfortably untidy, worn to fit the shape of the family. The summer morning was rainy, so all the lights were on, the atmosphere close and dreamy, perfumed with toast and coffee. (p. 1)
The Harper Perennial edition of Married Love and Other Stories will be in stores next week. Tessa Hadley will appeal to readers who like character-driven stories that offer a fresh perspective on familiar themes.

Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read the welcome note, posted here on June 18, 2010. To discover more Harper Perennial books, use the Topics/Labels pull-down menu in the sidebar. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. For more about Harper Perennial, follow them on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.

Buy Married Love and Other Stories at an Indie or at a bookstore near you. (This link leads to an affiliate program.)
Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2012

ISBN-13: 9780062135643


rhapsodyinbooks 11/16/12, 6:16 AM  

I don't know why but I just have some sort of short-story-phobia. (there must be a name for that!) It's kind of like clown fear, I think. Irrational, but there it is!

bookspersonally 11/16/12, 6:45 AM  

Loved a recent story of hers in The New Yorker and wanted to read more- must add this collection to my list!

Daryl 11/16/12, 8:08 AM  

Oh its good to know i am not alone .. I just don't like short stories .. I think its because i feel cheated, I want more .. I want to dive deep into a story not feel teased by its brevity

Julie P. 11/16/12, 8:12 AM  

I'm starting to really enjoy short stories so this looks good to me!

bermudaonion 11/16/12, 10:49 AM  

Ooh, there's nothing better than stories that explore relationships!

Jenners 11/16/12, 9:15 PM  

This sounds good. And I love that she gives you a glimpse into their future. That is always what leaves me unsatisfied about short stories.

Laurie C 11/17/12, 5:06 PM  

This one is definitely going on my TBR list, but I've also been meaning to read her novel, The London Train, and haven't yet.

Mel u 11/18/12, 8:05 PM  

Thanks for this post. I read a story by The author on line at
The New Yorker not long ago and will for sure add this book to my TBR list.

Peppermint Ph.D. 11/19/12, 8:56 AM  

I'm not a short story reader either...I think I get attached to characters and then have to recover when they're taken away from me so quickly :(

Robin M 11/19/12, 5:07 PM  

Great excerpts. They really hit the senses. Sounds like a wonderful book and adding it to my wishlist.

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