Late in the Day (Hadley)

Late in the Day
Tessa Hadley, 2018
288 pp.

Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties.

Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.

In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose.

Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine.

But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

Late in the Day explores the complex webs at the center of our most intimate relationships, to expose how, beneath the seemingly dependable arrangements we make for our lives, lie infinite alternate configurations.

Ingeniously moving between past and present and through the intricacies of her characters’ thoughts and interactions, Tessa Hadley once again "crystallizes the atmosphere of ordinary life in prose somehow miraculous and natural"—Washington Post. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—February 28, 1956
Where—Bristol, England, UK
Education—B.A.,  Cambridge University
Currently—lives in London, England

Tessa Hadley is a British author born and raised in Bristol, England. Her father was a teacher who loved jazz, and her mother, a homemaker who loved painting. Her family was not devoid of literary chops: Hadley's uncle is the noted London playwright Peter Nichols.

As a girl, Tessa read extensively. She studied literature at Cambridge, which she found a "chilly, funny, odd place. Nursing idealistic dreams of changing lives, she decided to become a teacher.

It was a complete disaster. I was 23. I went to a rough comprehensive. I was political: I wanted to bring light where there was darkness. All that rubbish. I was hopeless. The kids ran rings around me. I cried on my way to school every morning.

Her misfortunes as a teacher sapped Hadley of her confidence to become an author. Additionally, two other major life events took over: marriage and children. Having attempted a book early on, it took another 23 years, plus three children and three stepchildren, before publishing her first novel in 2002. That book, Accidents in the Home, was longlisted for The Guardian First Book Award.

In addition to six novels (see below) she has two volumes of short stories, both of which were New York Times Notable Books. Her stories appear regularly in The New Yorker.

Hadley lives in London.

2002 - Accidents in the Home
2003 - Everything Will Be All Right
2007 - The Master Bedroom
2007 - Sunstroke: and Other Stories
2011 - The London Train
2012 - Married Love: and Other Stories
2013 - Clever Girl
2016 - The Past
2018 - Late in the Day
(Author bio adapted from interview in the Independent, 5/25/2013, and from the publisher.)

Book Reviews
[B]rilliant and upsetting.… In the hands of a lesser novelist, the intricate tangle of lives at the center of Late in the Day might feel like… sly narrative machinations. Because this is Tessa Hadley, it instead feels earned and real and, even in its smallest nuances, important.… Hadley is adept at fluid omniscience, at storytelling that skims through the years as easily as it weaves through various points of view.… I'm not the first to compare [her] to Virginia Woolf… and Late in the Day calls to mind, in particular, Woolf's The Waves in its circling around a magnetic central character…whose absence becomes the book's main character.… It's in part Hadley's unflinching dissection of moments and states of consciousness that makes the Woolf comparisons irresistible, but it's also her commitment to following digressions both mental and philosophical… rather than pushing away at plot.…  It's to her great credit that Hadley manages to be old-fashioned and modernist and brilliantly postmodern all at once…unlocking age-old mysteries in ways both revelatory and inevitable. We've seen this before, and we've never seen this before, and it's spectacular.
Rebecca Makkai - New York Times Book Review

Gorgeous, utterly absorbing.… More than many of her contemporaries, the British writer Tessa Hadley understands that life is full of moments when the past presses up against the present, and when the present transforms the past. Her brilliant new novel, Late in the Day, explores both with equal urgency.
Boston Globe

[A] splendid, perceptive book.… Hadley has expertly examined the complications and intimacies of marriage and family in such novels as The Past, The Master Bedroom and Clever Girl. In Late in the Day she continues her persistent exploration of human frailty and resilience, moving easily between the present and the past to reveal the hard edges and silent compromises that shape all relationships.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Tessa Hadley is well-known for her inimitable portrayal of character and her latest effort, Late in the Day, is no disappointment.… A smart exploration of human nature, desire, and friendship.
Vanity Fair

The British novelist does what she does best: excavate the tensions and traumas that linger in the most seemingly normal families and relationships.
Huffington Post

[P]erceptive, finely wrought…. Hadley is a writer of the first order, and this novel gives her the opportunity to explore, with profound incisiveness and depth, the inevitable changes inherent to long-lasting marriages.
Publishers Weekly

In the fine tradition of women's fiction by authors such as Margaret Drabble, Penelope Lively, and Rachel Cusk exploring relationships among the cultured classes, Hadley's place is secure. —Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Library Journal

A four-person character study—here as always, Hadley is a master of interpersonal dynamics—the novel captures the complexity of loss. Their grief is not only for Zachary; it is for the lives they thought they knew. Restrained and tender.
Kirkus Reviews

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