I read "Silk Brocade" in the July 27, 2015 issue of The New Yorker Magazine and I knew immediately I discovered another author to love. In a tale about a young dressmaker, post-war England, a daughter, and a length of silk brocade, I discovered a writer who is a master of the short story. In just a few pages, Tessa Hadley lays out lifetimes and heart lines that stun and continue to linger well after the page has been put down.
I couldn't get enough of Ms. Hadley's writing, so I immediately purchased "Married Love and Other Stories." Not only a New York Times Bestseller, it was also the New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year for 2012. In these twelve stories, I found the skills of Chekhov and Mansfield emanating from one of today's writers
A young co-ed marries her much-older professor, not finding what she longed for. A cleaning woman sits in judgment of another woman she works with. A young couple meet each others' families, discovering they see life through different lenses. A love triangle finally simmers down into one tidy couple - post World War I. A girl creates an unlikely companionship during her parents' parties. A brother worries about his sister while snowed in at an airport. A soap actor offers a respite to a woman during a family gathering. Three godchildren observe and begin to understand the intimacies of adulthood. The mourning of a suicide and a misunderstood song lyric bring truth. The Caves of Lascaux hint at the "slight thing" that tilts a relationship in the wrong direction.
"Pretending" doesn't change reality. And the death of a producer leads to the "ordinary."
Ms. Hadley's writing is understated, incisive, and penetrating. Her stories are real - not contrived. She manages the tangled labyrinths of human relationships and embraces the essential elements of womanhood. There is a fine line between observing and becoming absorbed, and the reader is encouraged to walk that line.
The sentences of these tales imperceptibly melt into paragraphs. The paragraphs blend quietly into sections, developing into nice, neat packages. Everyday existence - the beautiful highs and the dramatic lows - are ordinary, but also beautiful and telling. The details are exacting, unearthing more than we realize within our own lives. Noting the character's subtleties encourages us to notice such nuances in the world around us.
Thoughts - once secret and vulnerable - are now put out in the open in "Married Love and Other Stories." The characters are mysterious creatures to themselves no longer. Instead, they find kindred souls in the readers, enchanted by Tessa Hadley's storytelling.
This review originally appeared in The Canon City Daily Record.
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