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The Master Bedroom

3.03  ·  Rating Details ·  467 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Hardback, excellent dust cover, binding, and pages clean inside
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Henry Holt and Co.
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(showing 1-30)
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Oct 05, 2007 K rated it really liked it
i started the master bedroom, hesitantly b/c i'd read other not so great reviews on a few other book sites, but i really really enjoyed it. the characters, while not exactly likable, were fascinating and real. the dialogue was snappy (i thought the lack of quotes would bother me but it didn't). i was prepared to dislike kate, who was entirely self centered and vain, yet she grew on me. i really enjoyed ms. hadley's writing, she envoked a sense of place very well. even tho some of the characters ...more
Oct 25, 2007 Linda rated it really liked it
flawed and introspective -- that's how I like the characters in a novel that I read sitting on the couch, too full of Thanksgiving dinner, to be. Yum.
Aug 15, 2007 Lawrence rated it liked it
What you think you want turns out to be just as undesirable as what you had. And getting what you think you want only leads to regret. Enough said.
Sep 16, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
From the reviews here, this book is clearly not for everyone. While Kate finds herself attracted to a son and father, there are no racy sex scenes. The attraction to a father and his son seems to be a mild taboo for some readers - or something they are not looking for in their fiction reading. I found the book to be a strong look at a woman who isn't thinking and the situations that come from not thinking. As others have noted, the quality of writing is strong. I was curious how the book would r ...more
Jan 20, 2008 Nette rated it it was ok
Well, this was a total waste of a Borders 30% off coupon. It's a high-brow, "literary" novel about a woman torn between having an affair with a married doctor or his 18-year-old son. What a dilemma! The heroine is so annoying that I kept hoping the other woman/mother would burst in and bean her with a frying pan, or whatever betrayed British houseives use on this occasions.

Also, the author doesn't use quotation marks.

-- Oh, darling, this is a terrible idea.
-- But don't you see, we cannot fight t
Oct 28, 2008 Nina rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sigrun Hodne
May 16, 2017 Sigrun Hodne rated it liked it
I use to like Hadley's books a lot - but this one is rather disappointing - : it leaves me with a question (or maybe it's a feeling) anyway -- translated into words it is this: SO WHAT?!
Mar 05, 2017 Mldgross rated it it was ok
Well I finished it, but I didn't like it.
May 24, 2008 YoSafBridg rated it really liked it
okay, so i finally finished reading this one: The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley, after i-don't-know-how-long, it seems i might have given up reading (for a nonce, anyway)~every time i pick up a book i can only read a page or two, which really sucks, because i have all of this idle time on my hands~not sleeping, and all~and with a semi-constant headache/migraine that cannot bear movement, or much light, or much sound~so household maintenance is definitely out of the question (oh so very sad, isn ...more
Lisa Mettauer
Aug 10, 2009 Lisa Mettauer rated it really liked it
As I’ve been thinking on what to say here about The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley, everything I come up with makes the book seem less than appealing. But I really liked this book.

The main character, 40-something Kate Flynn, quits her college teaching job in London to go to Cardiff, Wales, to care for her aging and close-to-senile mom, Billie. She’s kind of mean to her. Though with Billie almost all the time, Kate bosses her around and is always trying to make her leave the room. Then, after sh
Beth Bonini
Oct 12, 2010 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it
I borrowed this book off of a communal shelf at Jane Austen's House -- and I didn't recognize the author, or expect much from it. It was one of those books, though, that proved to be a really absorbing read.
The protagonist is a 43 year old woman (as am I), and I'm aware of being drawn to stories who feature someone like me -- a trait of children's reading, really. Anyway, I read this fact on the blurb on the back of the book -- and that's what made me pick out the book.

In this case, the protagon
Oct 09, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I received this novel as part of Library Thing's Early Reviewers program and truthfully would have given up on it about halfway through if I'd just been reading it for myself. At first, I found it quite engaging -- witty, well-written dialogue and Kate, a main character whose eccentricities I thought would be entertaining throughout. But as I got further in, the plot seemed stagnant and I realized there wasn't much to like to about Kate or any of the other characters.[return][return]Another revi ...more
Karen Angelico
Jun 10, 2016 Karen Angelico rated it really liked it
Tessa Hadley writes with incredible subtlety. The Master Bedroom is a novel about mid-life yearnings, family and life purpose. Hadley writes in a way that is simple and yet incredibly layered and thought provoking. I am always drawn immediately into Hadley's setting and characters; she puts a microscope on what seems to be very ordinary lives and brings out the passions, hopes, dreams, thoughts and fears that lie in all of us. Hadley never concludes stories with a nice tidy bow, and this novel i ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Dec 16, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
Kate Flynn returns to her childhood home in Cardiff after many successful years in London to care for her aging mother. Jobless and lonely, she enters into a slow courtship with the married brother of her best friend, David, and then an affair with the man's teenage son.

Kate is aimless and careless, pretentious and prickly. Neither she nor David are willing to expose themselves by overtly declaring affection for one another. David's wife removes herself emotionally from their marriage, but refus
Sara Habein
Aug 03, 2010 Sara Habein rated it it was ok
The trouble with The Master Bedroom is that while I found sentence after paragraph after page that made me want to start writing something new, I still found Kate rather unlikeable. She didn’t grow to any significant degree. She potters around her life, straining to feel like “herself,” though I was never quite sure who that was. Though she’s willing to vaguely complain to her friends, she expects her romantic interests to read her mind. She can’t be bothered to take charge, despite her feelings ...more
Feb 29, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Mmm. I read this. I remember the main character, Kate. But the novel didn't stick in my brain - the internal lives of the characters were unaccessible, so I was left with the impression of watching their movements at a great distance - like watching modern dance nearsighted without one's glasses from the cheap seats in the balcony far, far from the stage. It's breezy, which made it a fun read in the moment but perhaps with a little ADD toss of the head at the end. You know, like -- "hey, now wha ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: recentfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave Comerford
I stumbled across a strong short story by Tessa Hadley on the radio and wanted more of the same. The only trace of Tessa in my local library is this book, and I initially dismissed it on the basis of its cover art and title. It took me 5 seconds to realize that I was judging a book by its proverbial, and that thought sufficed to trigger an about-turn. I am not unhappy I pursued it. I found the lives depicted in the book believable and their struggles compelling. I looked forward to reading it at ...more
Myer Kutz
Feb 23, 2013 Myer Kutz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always on the lookout for contemporary British novelists who write for mature audiences. I read a New Yorker story (a good place to get introduced to a new writer) by Tessa Hadley and liked it well enough to give one of her novels a shot. I read The Master Bedroom in a couple of sittings. The prose is straightforward; Hadley never strains for effect. She does use an odd method of punctuating quotes, which breaks down now and then, but I got used to it. The characters are completely drawn, th ...more
Jul 16, 2008 CLM rated it it was ok
Even when she was a teenager she'd always known that this thing, this falling into a new obsession, was something you did to yourself. You chose to abandon yourself to it. Always, given that choice, Kate had gone in deeper and deeper still, as if the disorder were life itself.

* * *
I liked the way this started off but then it developed in a predictably self-destructive way, and while I was engrossed enough to read until I finished I decided I didn't like it very much.

The heroine has a tuft of wh
May 08, 2013 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
Probably merits 3.5 stars. Enjoyable, very well-written but did not really fulfill it's description (title and 'sexy read') which is less Tessa Hadley's fault and more the publishers. I found myself skipping the descriptions in order to get on with the story, which was thinner, and less believable than it ought to have been. And I remembered how I had luxuriated in the descriptive passages written by William McIlvannay, read them over just for the pleasure ... It probably merits a re-read some t ...more
Dec 01, 2012 Pat rated it it was ok
I definitely had to push myself to finish this book. I'm not sure why I did. The main character, Kate, returns to her childhood home to care for her aging mother, leaving behind her career and life in London. From the beginning, Kate is self-absorbed, caustic and generally unlikeable. Somehow these qualities attract her best friend's brother and his son. Her sexual relationship with the under-age son is odd (and illegal in the U.S.). The ending was quite surprising to me; at long last, her arrog ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Ellen rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, library, 2016
I was disappointed by this as I expected better from Tessa Hadley. The protagonist, Kate, is so self-absorbed and unaware that she is difficult to like or care about. Her behaviour is so self-centred and, in my opinion, ethically wrong if not illegal, that I struggled to want to learn more about her. And the majority of the other characters are so underwritten that they, too, failed to have any impact on me. The writing was good (I listened to it so the issue of the lack of speech marks wasn't a ...more
Nov 07, 2016 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate Flynn, 43, gives up her academic career and moves back to the dilapidated family home in Cardiff to care for her increasingly confused mother. Once there, she rekindles a relationship with David, who she knew as a teenager. But she also finds herself in a relationship with David's 17 year old son, Jamie....... This was only an okay read for me - probably more aimed at a female readership - and I didn't really take to any of the characters particularly. Also found the lack of ending very uns ...more
Linda Gaines
Jan 26, 2017 Linda Gaines rated it really liked it
I've been reading several of Hadley's novels and she is a fine writer. In this one she tells of Kate Flynn, not the most likable of women, and the strange choices she makes. It is hard to feel sorry for her but a reader could understand her as she was depicted.
Some of the setting descriptions are beautifully written:
"The sky was mostly heavily gray, but the straining dancing leaves and long whips of twigs were dazzlingly black against a swell of light. With every strong burst of wind the leaves
Aug 25, 2008 Sabrina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I would not
Shelves: chick-lit one word, disappointing.
I was expecting something more salacious. Don't let the cover fool you, as it did me.
I read this on a plane and it was more entertaining than the snoring man next to me and less annoying than the children in front of me. Perhaps I should have contacted those behind me for a more pleasurable use of my time...or I guess I could have slept too, that would have been better.
Dec 30, 2013 Tracy rated it liked it
I love Tessa Hadley's short stories -- I think that's really her strength. They remind me a bit of Alice Munro, which about as high a compliment as I can give to short stories. This is the second novel of hers I've read, and I did enjoy it. I think I can safely call it smartly written British chick lit. Shades of A.S. Byatt, which is also a huge compliment coming from me. I think I liked The London Train better, but this was fun, and I'd happily read anything she wrote.
Jun 06, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to
It took some time for me to get interested in the book but it could be because I listened to the audiobook and was actually getting used to the reader rather than the story. There is some witty and entertaining dialogue and some interesting relationships but overall it seemed to me that the story lacked a good introduction and a good ending. I felt like I came in in the middle of the story and left before it ended; but, I was entertained while I was there.
Oct 05, 2009 M rated it it was ok
I picked this up without reading the back - mistake - from the library in a mad haste before y't - well. THe smutty premise basically says it all - woman falls in love with a married man and, simultaneously his teenaged son. Eeeeep. Anyway the writing wasn't half bad but the premise, if you can believe this, wasn't enough to sustain the book (ie some character development and actual grappling with conflict might have helped) and I don't think Hadley thought beyond the smut factor.
Emi Bevacqua
Sep 20, 2008 Emi Bevacqua rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, euro
The whole time I was reading this I was thinking it would be so much better if Hadley had emphasized local language; as it was you really couldn't even tell it took place in the UK much less Cardiff. The quirky main character Kate is endearing and I was rooting for her, and even got a tiny kick out of the very ending, but overall I just didn't care that much for/about the story.
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Tessa Hadley is the author of Sunstroke and Other Stories, and the novels The Master Bedroom, Everything Will Be All Right, and Accidents in the Home. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, and teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University.
More about Tessa Hadley...

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“I hate to think of you stuck here all day every day, doing nothing with that brilliant brain of yours.”
“It never was brilliant. Anyway, who keeps these books to see who’s used themselves wisely and who’s wasted?”
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