In May, the Suffolk Book League had a large and appreciative audience for Tessa Hadley’s talk on her writing life and her latest novel Late in the Day (Vintage Books). Tessa Hadley is a novelist whose work shines light on the complexities of lived life - on art and creativity, work and sex, love and loneliness, memory, marriage and family dynamics.
Late in the Day follows the story of two long marriages and the effect of the sudden death of one of the husbands. Couples Alexander and Christine, and Zachary and Lydia, have been close friends for years but when Zachary dies suddenly,their lives are turned upside down. The novel examines the ways profound loss affects who we think we are and how we relate to others. The novel also looks at the ways in which we build memories and the ways in which the past can shape our present. As one character says of life; ‘Sometimes these days I almost think I can do without the present. The past is enough for me, it’s enough for my life. Does that sound insane?’
Hadley’s carefully constructed sentences and delicate yet powerful framing of life events within a dramatic narrative is exceptional. Listening to her read from the novel and then discuss in open and generous ways, about how and why she wrote Late in the Day, made the evening a particularly memorable event.
Tessa Hadley’s exquisite prose style has often been likened to Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout and Anne Tyler and Hadley herself has been quoted as saying that Munro’s stories gave her a ‘sense of permission’ to write as herself and about the world she knew. Tessa spoke movingly of writing scenes where she tried to find the right balance of words to create life on the page
and emotions in the reader. It is this careful attention to words, and ways in which writing can articulate emotional experience that makes her work so attractive to both writers and readers.
[Tessa Hadley appeared on May 16 2019]
Written by Amanda Hodgkinson