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Married Love and Other Stories

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  736 ratings  ·  118 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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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  736 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Roger Brunyate
Jun 06, 2016 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
‘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
Jan 11, 2013 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
Morgan Schulman
Jan 26, 2013 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.
Oct 27, 2013 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.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am so glad I discovered Tessa Hadley. One of my new favorite authors. My only issue, as with Bad Dreams, was that some stories weren't quite... long enough. They seemed to end just a bit too soon, a little suddenly. But they were so good. Sooo good.
Jan 26, 2013 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
Diane S ☔
Nov 16, 2012 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
Jun 22, 2015 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.
Jan 01, 2014 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.
RH Walters
Feb 04, 2013 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.

Starts 5.11.2012

Nicely written.
Hadley's writing is so entrancing; I loved every one of these short stories. She takes familiar themes (marriage, family, divorce, death, parenting) and illuminates them with wisdom and heart and verve. Like her novel The Past, which my book club read together, this collection is full of characters who fully engage the reader, sentences that you have to read and re-read just for the pleasure of their construction, and simple plots that are completely relatable because the events they depict are ...more
May 24, 2012 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
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
Michael Tweed
Oct 06, 2015 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.
Dec 23, 2012 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.
Eveline Chao
Jun 11, 2015 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!
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I am very much grading on a curve here - this woman can write. She is a superb “craftswoman” - I would absolutely love to learn from her and of course, reading this book was quite instructional. However, as a collection of stories themselves, with drama, characters etc. they all kind of blurred into each other. The stylish middle aged women wore little makeup and had red hair, the men were a useless, and with one or two exceptions the plots were extremely low stakes. Her talent is very much in s ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read Tessa Hadley’s Bad Dreams and Other Stories and loved it. What a brilliant writer. Married Love is also an enjoyable read, however many stories in this collection feel like they end too soon, unresolved somehow. More often than not I was left wanting. It might have a lot to do with her philosophy of writing short stories: “Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield taught us to feel that irresolute is more truthful: a moment comes that seems to clinch something or change something, but it’s not obvi ...more
AJ McGuire
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I heard Tessa Hadley talking about a John Updike story on the New Yorker podcast and was taken with her spirited defense of his male gaze. Then I liked her story, "Celicilia Awakened" which was was a very thinly sliced coming of age story where people's differing reactions to art is used as psychological fodder for the narrative - a trick I'm fond of.

This collection was additional closely observed psychologically attentive stories in the same mold. I get the sense that Tessa Hadley really looks
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a stylist and an observer of the way people behave, Tessa Hadley stands alone. As a plotter of short stories, she's only so-so. Most of the stories in this collection are slice-of-life-y: we drop in on some characters, learn about their backstory, see them in action, and then abandon them. I felt let down with a thud at the end of each story.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first few of these felt slight, inconsequential and frayed at the edges, but eventually it became obvious that that - the human reality of them - was their charm. Another book to be re-read and re-savoured.
Christina Gagliano
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A couple of gems (Married Love, In The Country), several solid stories, a couple of "so what" stories, but always spectacular writing.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Master story writer!
Jul 27, 2013 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
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
Joanne Parkington
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm a big fan of short story collections especially as 'in betweeners' after a long or taxing previous read .. and although i can see the reason's for the glowing reviews, the stories are almost poetic and have a natural flow to them, this collection just didn't do it for me. In fact, the stories left me feeling dejected and abit down and that's due to the bleakness of them ... there's no hope in these page's but one desolate mistake after another. Maybe it's me and i'm just a bit that way out a ...more
Nov 30, 2015 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
Mar 03, 2013 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
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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.
“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.” 4 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)” 3 likes
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