An improbable coincidence brings Clare back into contact with someone she once had sex with at a teenage party; complicatedly, he is now going out with her best friend, Helly. The encounter needn't have meant anything - it could just have been funny, or embarrassing - but it seems to have the power to shake up everything in Clare's life. Clare is married with three small children, she bakes her own bread and buys her clothes from the charity shop. Helly is an actress and has her golden curves pasted up on billboards ten foot high. And each of them seems to want what the other has. Clare's story is intertwined with other stories of her extended family. Her father has been married three times and left a trail of children. Accidents in the Home dips in and out of the lives of this complicated, close, fraught family, reaching out into the past for explanation and illumination as well as across the present. It is the debut of a quite formidable fictional talent.
"Few writers give me such consistent pleasure"
"She has such great psychological insights into human beings, which is rare. She is one of the best fiction writers writing today"
"Surprising and rewarding... Hadley has pulled off an important and tricky task... Not many books remind you so directly and forcefully that reading is about creating new ways of seeing the world"
"Charts with intelligence, humour and unflinching perception the way we mostly fail to realise how we have to live"
"In clear prose that gorgeously fixes nuances so evanescent as to be rare, the novel unfolds an artful, inventive spectrum of opportunity and love - Tessa Hadley is that rare writer who has the convictions of her ambitions"
From novels about parenting to making love last, here are some great books to read in your forties.
Novels to swoon, cry and sigh wistfully over this Valentine's Day.