Joyce Stevenson is thirteen when her widowed mother takes them to live with Aunt Vera, a formidable teacher neglected by her unfaithful husband. Joyce watches the two sisters - her aunt's unbending dedication to the life of the mind, her mother worn down by housework - and thinks that each of them is powerless in her own way.
For Joyce, art school provides an escape route, and there she falls in love with one of her teachers. When she marries and has children, she is determined to manage her relationship with a new freedom, and to save herself from the mistakes of the previous generation. But her daughter Zoe, growing up, comes to see Joyce as a bourgeois housewife, and when Zoe has a baby of her own, she demands more from motherhood...
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
Bewitchingly compelling... Gloriously addictive, delectably enjoyable... the reader is snared and kept captive to the last... Exquisite
Hadley's fiction resembles that of Anne Tyler in aiming to illuminate ordinary life
From novels about parenting to making love last, here are some great books to read in your forties.
Tessa Hadley writes about relationships between lovers, friends, parents and children, with the sharpest of eyes so that you see things you'd never noticed before not just in writing, but in your own life too. Here, the VINTAGE team pick their favourite of her novels and short stories.