The Past: A novel by Tessa Hadley

bookshelves: autumn-2015, published-2015, radio-4, devon, under-50-ratings, families, britain-england, contemporary, lit-richer

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from September 07 to 19, 2015

Description: Sian Thomas reads Tessa Hadley’s powerful and haunting new novel, a beautifully observed portrait of a family and the change wrought by time across the generations.

Three middle-aged sisters and a brother meet up in their grandparents’ old house for three long, hot summer weeks. Under the idyllic surface, there are immediate tensions. Secrets, misunderstandings and passion play out as the characters shift and reappraise and a way of life – bourgeois, literate, ritualised – winds down to its inevitable end.

While the siblings circle each other, and the adolescents approach each other, the children watch and come to their own conclusions.

Tessa Hadley is one of Britain’s finest writers, an acute observer of character, time and place and the most published short story writer in the New Yorker in recent years.

Episode 1: The party assembles

2/10: The children make a discovery and Harriet sees something she shouldn’t have

3/10: Pilar confides in Harriet and Kasim finds the children useful allies.

4/10: Ivy loses her temper and keeps her secret close; Kasim repays Alice with a joke.

5/10: The children observe more strange adult behaviour and Harriet experiences something new.

6/10: It is 1968 and Jill arrives back at her parents house, children in tow.

7/10: A moments indiscretion or time for a new direction? The past influences the present.

8/10: Romance is blooming under watchful eyes.

9/10: Passions boil over with disasterous consequences.

10/10: Finding the lost and living without love.

Siân Phillips at 80 – what a woman!

Welsh author, Welsh actress narrating, and the Millenium Stadium on the eight foot screen.

Although I have encounted Hadley twice before to an ‘OK’ level she has stayed on the radar because one always felt she had solid novel in her, and this is solid ‘liked it’ territory.

2* Married Love and Other Stories
2* Bad Dreams
3* The Past

3* The Book Lovers’ Appreciation Society


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