Summary and book reviews of Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley

Late in the Day

by Tessa Hadley

Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley X
Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2019, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2020, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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About this Book

Book Summary

The lives of two close-knit couples are irrevocably changed by an untimely death.

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).

ONE

THEY WERE LISTENING TO MUSIC when the telephone rang. It was a summer's evening, nine o'clock. They had finished supper and Christine was listening with intensity, sitting with her feet tucked under her in the armchair; she recognised the music although she didn't know what it was. Alex had chosen it, he hadn't consulted her and now she stubbornly wouldn't ask – he took too much pleasure in knowing what she didn't know. He lay on the sofa in the bay window with a book open in his hand, not reading it, the book dropped across his chest; he was watching the sky outside. Their flat was on the first floor and the sitting-room window looked out over a wide street lined with plane trees. A gang of parakeets zipped across from the park, and the purple-brown darkness of the copper beech next door fumed against the turquoise sky, swallowing the last light. A black- bird silhouetted with open beak on a branch must be singing, but the recorded music overrode it.

It was the landline ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

All four of these characters are vividly realized and remarkably complex; over the course of the novel their backstories work in tandem with their present-day thoughts and choices to gel into a clear picture...continued

Full Review (618 words).

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(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.

Library Journal
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.

Booklist
Hadley traces the friends' relationships through the decades, not only revealing the evolution of their friendships and romances but also the rise and fall of their youthful ambitions and artistic passions. A layered and compelling read.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Riveting…. A four-person character study - here as always, Hadley is a master of interpersonal dynamics - the novel captures the complexity of loss.

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Beyond the Book

Creative Blocks

Writer's BlockMany writers, artists, and other creatives experience the occasional block – an inability to create or a sudden lack of ideas for moving forward with their work. Both Alex and Christine deal with this issue in Tessa Hadley's Late in the Day, and for Alex the block spans many years. The term creative block was coined in 1947 by Dr. Edmund Bergler, an Austrian psychiatrist and disciple of Sigmund Freud. He described the condition as a person's "unconscious wish to defeat one's conscious aims, and to enjoy that self-constructed defeat." There is something to this definition, but not every creative block is the result of inadvertent self-sabotage.

These blocks are almost always psychological in nature, and perhaps the most common cause...

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