Free Love

Tessa Hadley. Harper, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-313777-6
The poignant, ironic latest from Hadley (Late in the Day) is drenched in the atmosphere of late-1960s Britain, when the lives of women seemed to be changing radically, but maybe, in fact, weren’t so much. In 1967, Phyllis Fischer is 40 years old, “pleased with her life” as a housewife in suburban London, married to civil servant Roger, and mother to charming nine-year-old Hugh and discontented 15-year-old Colette. But, as the detached, observant narrator notes, “under the placid surface of suburbia, something was unhinged.” Soon Phyllis is involved, to Colette’s chagrin, in an affair with Nicholas, the 20-something son of family friends. What seems at first to be a simple tale of adultery and its consequences twists into something between a “cosmic comedy” (as Nicholas’s mother calls it) and a “situation as fatally twisted as a Greek drama” (according to the narrator) as the affair reveals unexpected connections between Phyllis’s family and Nicholas’s. The narrator’s wise, disaffected view of life homes in on the shakiness of Phyllis’s sentimental education. In keen, lush prose, Hadley conveys the many ways her characters delude themselves amid fraught relationships between parents and children as well as between lovers. The result is sumptuous and surprising. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/01/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-0390-0305-7
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-313781-3
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