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Married Love and Other Stories

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  562 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
A new collection of short fiction from the acclaimed novelist, short story writer, and regular New Yorker contributor-"a supremely perceptive writer of formidable skill and intelligence" (New York Times Book Review)

"Hadley is a writer of exceptional intelligence and skill and . . . a subtly subversive talent. . . . [Only Alice Munro and Colm Toibin] are so adept at portra
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Harper Perennial (first published October 8th 2012)
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‘He knew how passionately she succumbed to the roles she dreamed up for herself. She won’t be able to get out of this one, he thought. She can’t stop now.’

Married Love: And Other Stories is a collection of short fictional contemporary stories. Married Love is not all about domestic bliss. It's about the every day struggles that the characters encounter. Each story is a showcasing of a brief moment that manages to convey an entire life without leaving one feeling incomplete by the shortness of it
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I have to confess, when I saw the blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle on the cover -- "An acknowledged master of limning the Chekhovian mysteries of experience." -- I kind of panicked. I know Chekhov is great, but isn't The Seagull super obscure and boring? I'm pretty sure I know what 'limning' might mean, but needless to say, I was a bit daunted to start.

I needn't have worried! While these stories are quiet in a way, they aren't boring or obscure. They're moody and sad, poignant and romantic
RH Walters
Feb 12, 2013 RH Walters rated it it was amazing
Reading these stories makes me feel like I'm crouching over a dollhouse and everything Hadley does with the people fascinates me.
Maartje Bronkhorst
Jun 15, 2015 Maartje Bronkhorst rated it did not like it
No stories here. Just random fragments of uninteresting characters' lives. Not a shred of dramatic development. Boring, flat and tedious.
Dec 26, 2015 Sonya rated it really liked it
Most of these stories are set in contemporary Britain, about people with normal lives. What separates them from the mundane is Tessa Hadley's ability to full animate the setting and the interior lives of her characters. She knows how to eke out details that are necessary to the whole, and to the story's overall effect and tone.

My favorite is "In the Country," where Julie is Ed's wife. They gather with Ed's family at the country house to celebrate Ed's mother's sixtieth birthday. Julie has a sort
Nov 02, 2014 Martha rated it it was amazing
Tessa Hadley is a master story teller and this collection is a gem. I savored each story, but was especially smitten with Journey Home and She's the One, both of which presented situations that were very satisfying emotional journeys. There's a certain economy to these stories that keep them quite separate from a novel or something that could become a novel. But in that economy, more has to be told, and the intensity of this telling gives these stories a fullness of life that is dense and movin ...more
Jane Gregg
Apr 18, 2016 Jane Gregg rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated the jewel-like quality of the writing in Tess Hadley's short fiction collected here. She strikes such a truthful note, and her depiction of families and relationships of all kinds, and from several periods, is perfect. This is the first I have read of her work, after the BBC Book Club podcast I stumbled upon, but will be no means my last. Recommended.
Morgan Schulman
Jan 27, 2013 Morgan Schulman rated it liked it
Like most books of literally short stories, some are amazing and some are just tedious. If you've already read all the good ones in the New Yorker, don't bother; if not, get it from
The library and read selectively. The three star rating is an average because there are a few five star stories in here.
Jun 14, 2012 A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Hadley does a beautiful job of capturing the everyday aspects of people's lives. The quotidian becomes dramatic in her hands. I appreciate how deftly her stories are plotted and how succinctly her characters are drawn.

Perhaps the simplest story in the book is Journey Home and yet it reveals all of Hadley's strengths. Alec, an art historian, is headed home from Venice. When the story begins he is mildly concerned about his sister because she changed her relationship status on facebook. As he take
Jun 22, 2015 Candice rated it liked it
Liked this, although not as much as the novel Clever Girl that i just finished. Nothing negative about the short stories, but I think the development of the characters in the novel was more satisfying, so I have another one of her novels to read next. I can see some of the seeds of her Clever Girl characters in these stories, however.
Eveline Chao
Jun 11, 2015 Eveline Chao rated it it was amazing
This was amazing. Every single story felt as full and rich and fulfilling as an entire novel. Hadley just might be my new favorite author!
Kasey Jueds
Jun 21, 2013 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
As always, difficult for me to express how much I love Tessa Hadley's work. For me, she's pretty much the ideal fiction writer--her short stories, in particular (though I adore her novels too) are little worlds, full of what she calls "the deep-ocean trenches" of emotion, dread, sex. Those ocean-deep places occur again and again in these stories (especially in my favorites, "Journey Home," "In the Country," and "In the Cave"); coming to them is like rounding a corner and finding something both u ...more
I love a strong short story collection - it's one of my favorite genres. This one didn't do it for me, though the writing is strong. As I've written in oh-so-many reviews lately, my work situation right now is quite hideous so it is possible I am unable to "get into" any story as my mind is too busy stressing out about other things. I think I need something highly plotty because the last few I've read have me feeling antsy and distracted. As I look back the ones I've rated not strongly are all l ...more
Jan 08, 2014 Penny rated it it was ok
This has reaffirmed that I really am not sure about short stories - I am still deceived by the shortness and fail to see the significance of the succinct phrases and use of words, I am left wanting to know what happens next. This was an interesting dip into various senarios of married love, interesting but still making me feel as though I was skipping through them blindly.
Roger Brunyate
Jun 06, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stories, top-ten-2012

One of the twelve stories in the middle of Tessa Hadley's evocative collection contains a scene in which two people unexpectedly go to bed together. Standard fare for a short-story writer, you might think, but this comes as a surprise. Certainly not because it is graphic—the essential action is offstage—but because Hadley is generally assiduous in avoiding the game-changing moment. A cover quote compares her to Chekhov, though her understated Englishness has no place for muted Slavic hy
Diane S ☔
Nov 21, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
These are very literary stories, and Hadley does a great job of noticing even the minutiae in the lives of her characters. She brings the readers attention to their surroundings and follows their lives longer than many short story writer do. Of course I had favorites and a few I could not relate to, but as a whole I enjoyed these stories of relationships good and bad. ARC from publisher
Dec 17, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tessa Hadley was an author that I was not aware of until I heard one of her short stories on the BBC's short story competition in 2014. I then read her novel 'The London train' earlier this year and really enjoyed her skill with the tension of domestic life. I picked this book up as someone who rarely reads short stories although I enjoy listening to them and found a really well crafted collection which focus again on domestic matters.
The title story is about a young woman Lottie who announces s
Rioghnat Crotty
Oct 20, 2014 Rioghnat Crotty rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories holds a purity and clarity that is impressive but sometimes a little cold. Her characters are detached and self contained, regarding each other from their separate worlds. Relationships between people are sporadic and short lived, the natural order seems to be of individuals locked away from each other with only brief moments of connection. The writing is precisely honest but I found the total lack of empathy within the stories left me less satisfied than I had b ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Susan rated it it was ok
Well-written stories, quite British and contemporary, but somehow the ending never seems to make a point rather than just fading off ... I had liked her novel The London Train, so this was a bit of a disappointment, although I did read every story and they were engaging.
Michael Tweed
Oct 11, 2015 Michael Tweed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heared about this short story collection While listening to bookclub on bbc radio 4,it sounded like the type of book I might enjoy.How right I was.Each story a little gem.I will try one of Tessa Hadleys novels next time.
Jun 24, 2015 Phyllis rated it liked it
Didn't realise that this was a collection of short stories when I started it, and I am not generally a fan of short stories. However the ones I read were well written, with interesting pen pictures of people's lives. To me it was disappointing that they didn't develop into more, which is why I prefer a novel, having put the effort into getting to know the characters. After getting half way through I gave up on the book. This is not something I normally do and if it had been a novel I would have ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Tamsen rated it liked it
My favorites were "journey home" and "in the cave."

Some lines I liked:

"Lottie stared at them in genuine bewilderment. -I don't understand you all, she said. -How can you not want for me what I want?"

"It was a surprise to discover how her desire could attach itself to the aura of Neil's power and not the particulars of his face and body, which in her mental picture of him was always blurred."

"Her heart wouldn't break, she was safe, its muscle toughened after the years of accumulations from two l
Jan 26, 2014 Alyson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh deary me.

Things got off to a bad start when I realised it was short stories. I'd grabbed it in a hurry in the library recognising the author's name and didn't read the blub. I don't mind short stories, only, I wasn't expecting them this time.

IF I read short stories though, they need to be good. And there's only one out of the 12 stories that I thought was any good. All the rest ended strangely, with no resolution and I was left thinking 'What?' Some of the characters were wishy-washy and I h
Jul 27, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I'm new to Tessa Hadley, and will read more of her books. One of the main things I noticed in this collection was a focus on class differences. In one of my favorite stories, The Trojan Price, she sums it up beautifully when the main character goes to visit a distant cousin. The year is 1920.
"Everything is this house is slick with prosperity, with the labour of servants. In his own home, there's only a girl who comes in two mornings a week to help his mother with the heavy work.
What James McI
Apr 30, 2012 Carys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this elegantly written collection Tessa Hadley presents twelve stories about family relationships. In the title story nineteen year old Lottie marries university lecturer Edgar Lennox. Hadley deftly sketches the reactions of each family member with Noah, Lottie's brother, offering perhaps the most concise, yet alarming observation: 'He knew how passionately she succumbed to the roles she dreamed up for herself. She won't be able to get out of this one, he thought. She can't stop now.' And ind ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Abby rated it really liked it
Tessa Hadley is a supremely gifted writer who brings you into her characters' perfectly situated lives of quiet desperation. Her fully fleshed-out and realized stories are exquisite (comparable to the great Alice Munro) while the remainder read more like character sketches (albeit ones with beautiful imagery and prose).

"Married Love," "A Mouthful of Cut Glass," "Because the Night," "Journey Home," "In the Country," "In the Cave," and "Post Production" are all filled with perceptive character ins
Judy Churchill
Dec 31, 2015 Judy Churchill rated it liked it
I am not normally a reader of short stories but this collection tempted me. Hadley is known for her precise and concise development of characters and her ability to simultaneously imbed these characters in the story. All this in a few pages! I enjoyed the edgy stories, but I'm still not a convert. I miss the longer journey of the novel and lucky enough, Tessa Hadley writes those too.
Apr 04, 2014 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than the elegantly written but chilly stories in the ebook version are the author's notes and the end matter. I'm not sure why I enjoyed the stories more when I read them in The New Yorker than in this collection, but they felt aloof and not quite fully formed -- which I found contrary to Hadley's own comments.
Feb 11, 2014 Katie rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! Loved it! Tessa Hadley reminds me of Alice Munro in the richness of her stories--each one is such a complete world unto itself--and of A.S. Byatt in her disregard for the conventional structural expectations of short fiction. And her prose is perfection. A joy to read--each sentence meticulously crafted, each word chosen with care, yet it all manages to seem effortless.
Rose Joyce
Jun 11, 2015 Rose Joyce rated it really liked it
Great selection of contemporary short stories of ordinary people .The characters in the story are British.
"Slice of life" style . Author has the ability to make the lives and problems of her characters interesting.
I particularly enjoyed reading "married love","journey home" and "in the cave"
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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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“She imagined the reading she did now as like climbing inside one of those deep old beds she'd seen in a museum, with a sliding door to close behind you: even as she was suffering with a book and could hardly bear it, felt as if her heart would crack with emotion or with outrage at injustice, the act of reading it enclosed and saved her. Sometimes when she moved back out of the book and into her own life, just for a moment she could see her circumstances with a new interest and clarity, as if they were happening to someone else.” 2 likes
“But she wasn't in love, though she had been ready to be. Love sank down gently from where it had been swollen in expectation -- she imagined a red balloon deflating to a foolish remnant. (In the cave, 171)” 2 likes
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