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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Past: A Novel by Tessa Hadley

The Past cover
(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Three sisters and a brother, complete with children, a new wife, and an ex-boyfriend’s son, descend on their grandparents’ dilapidated old home in the Somerset countryside for a final summer holiday, where simmering tensions and secrets rise to the surface over three long, hot weeks.The house is full of memories of their childhood and their past—their mother took them there to live when she left their father—but now, they may have to sell it. And beneath the idyllic pastoral surface lie tensions.

Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in an abandoned cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister. As the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life—bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican—winds down to its inevitable end.

my thoughts:

British to the core, The Past by Tessa Hadley reads, speaks, tastes, and feels like England. I found myself lulled into the story with its rich, descriptive language.  I enjoyed the slow-going pace and the way it made me feel as if I were back in the English countryside writing my dissertation.  I could picture the little white house, the crumbling decay of its facade, the smell of must and old within the walls and furniture.  I could smell the grass, leaves, and sunshine beating down.  And I could see this family gathered together, trying to relive the glory days of their youth spent at their grandparents' country home.  The misunderstandings, the tensions simmering beneath a thin layer of pretend happiness, the slights and minor hurts that turn into cutting remarks and hateful thoughts.  Hadley lays everything out - from the present dilemma of whether or not they should keep their grandparents' home, to the past secrets that have long kept them divided.  The Past is a glorious exploration of a family's history, love, secrets, jealousies, memories, passions, etc.  I found myself spellbound by these unlikeable siblings and their children.  I liked how Hadley introduced us to them as adults and then as children in the second part of the story.  Being privy to their childhood, we are able to gain a better understanding of why they have become the adults we are left with in the end.  Talk about a mesmerizing read - I was hooked! 

I absolutely loved this quiet, riveting novel of a dysfunctional family visiting an old childhood home - it made for quite an unforgettable read.  I would happily recommend The Past to fans of Tessa Hadley and fans of Brit Lit.  

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Past
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

9 comments:

Ti said...

I love the cover and I love the sound of it, in general. Sounds like a juicy read.

Nadia A said...

Ti, I thought you would like this one. Especially as you enjoy character driven stories. Definitely a worthwhile read :)

baystatera said...

I've loved all the Tessa Hadley that I've read, which I think is one novel and several short stories. I have gotten behind and never read her last one, so I need to get to both that one and this one ASAP!

Nadia A said...

baystatera, yes! You must read this both! Her books are just so good. I loved this one so much! So glad you enjoy her work as well :)

Lark said...

Ooh, I've been looking for some books that are set in England for my Reading England Challenge; this would fit the bill perfectly. Thanks! :)

Nadia A said...

Lark, it would fit the bill perfectly for your Reading England Challenge :) Enjoy!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I love that we get a glimpse of their childhoods - what we experience at that time of life has such a major influence on what we are as adults.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

The Bibliophile Belle said...

I stumbled across a book of her short stories years ago. Great review!

Nadia A said...

Heather, I know! I think that reading about them as kids really helps pull the story together. Such a good book! Thanks for having me on the tour :)

The Bibliophile Belle, she's such an amazing writer! Thanks so much!!