|(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
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.
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