Tessa Hadley is an understated writer whose concentration on the details of everyday life belies a breathtaking acuity and articulateness, wrote Leyla Sanai in the Independent of Hadleys last novel, The London Train. Hadley shows, with dizzying aplomb, that the distinction between literary fiction and the best domestic fiction is spurious. The critical consensus was unanimous: here, underrated till now except by a few readers who have been aficionados from the beginning of her career, was a contemporary British writer worthy to be compared to Elizabeth Bowen. As Peter Parker wrote in the Sunday Times, [Hadleys] prose is less idiosyncratic than Bowens but similarly shows how language, deployed with precision or daring, can make thrillingly new the textures and undercurrents of everyday life.
All the qualities that readers praised in The London Train are present in Clever Girl, Tessa Hadleys brilliant new novel. It follows the story of Stella, from her childhood as the daughter of a single mother in a Bristol bedsit in the 1960s into the mysterious shallows of her middle age. The story is full of drama violent deaths, an abrupt end to Stellas schooldays, two sons by different fathers who arent around to see the boys grow up but as ever it is her observation of ordinary lives, of the way men and women think and feel and relate to one another, that dazzles. Yes, you think. This is how it is.show more