Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: Married Love and Other Stories, by Tessa Hadley

Married Love and Other Stories
by Tessa Hadley 
Harper Perennial
2012 
203 pages 

So, okay, here's what you need to know right off the bat before reading another word of this review.

I am apparently in a bit of a reading funk.

Whether it is the holiday season upon us, the worries of the looming fiscal cliff, The Husband's health issues (making the title of this short story collection ironic, yes?), the end of the year (or all of our days) or a combination of all of the above ... I've got a serious case of the book blues. I've abandoned both an audiobook that I can't even remember the name of (my short-term memory is shot), as well as a very popular, made-into-a-movie Man Booker Prize winner that people loved.

All of which is to say this: the inability to connect with the twelve offerings in Tessa Hadley's Married Love and Other Stories is clearly, absolutely mine. I own it. As regular readers know, I adore short stories. They are among my favorite literary forms, and Married Love has many of the elements that I love about them.
"[These] 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." (from the publisher's description)
These stories are set in different time periods (modern day as well as all the way back to the 1920s), the descriptions of the characters are original (if perhaps a little heavy on the metaphors), and Hadley doesn't wrap everything up neatly with a bow - which I usually appreciate.

However.

One of the things that has been praised by other bloggers about Married Love might just hold the key to my stumbling block right now. These are stories where the characters reflect on their lives in the midst of the commonalities of their life or the little moments of their day. Maybe it's because I've been doing a lot of that myself. Maybe having too many uncertain things in my own life causes one to be especially resistant to this in one's reading.

I don't know. All I know is that, for whatever reason, I had a tough time connecting to the characters and the stories in Married Love, which was sent to me by TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review. I feel that I need to apologize to Ms. Hadley for this, as she is clearly a very talented writer. (The problem in this case is me.)

So, since I don't think I did this collection justice, I'm planning to pick it up again when I'm in more of a normal reading frame of mind. I'd also encourage you to check out the other participants on the Married Love tour being hosted by TLC Book Tours, as many of them truly loved the book and had many wonderful things to say.



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1 comment:

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Darn, it is a shame that this book came along when you were in this frame of mind. You are so right about your current mood/frame of mind/etc. being a huge influence on your enjoyment of a book - it happens to me all the time.

Hopefully you'll be able to better enjoy it at another time. Thanks for being on the tour.