The Past

The Past

3.16 (5,304 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Few writers give me such consistent pleasure' Zadie Smith

Four siblings meet up in their grandparents' old house for three long, hot summer weeks. But under the idyllic surface lie shattering tensions.

Roland has come with his new wife, and his sisters don't like her. Fran has brought her children, who soon uncover an ugly secret in a ruined cottage in the woods. Alice has invited Kasim, an outsider, who makes plans to seduce Roland's teenage daughter. And Harriet, the eldest, finds her quiet self-possession ripped apart when passion erupts unexpectedly.

Over the course of the holiday, a familiar way of life falls apart forever.

'Exquisite' The Times

'Wonderful' Guardian

'Magnificent' Sunday Times
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 23mm | 255g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099597462
  • 9780099597469
  • 69,420

Review Text

"She deserves all the prizes. Hadley is psychologically acute, drily witty and…absolutely wonderful on place"
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Review quote

"I find Tessa Hadley's work genuinely helpful, especially when it comes to the big subjects: love and marriage, the political versus the personal, children, friendship. And then there are the sentences themselves, so precise and beautiful, often sly, sometimes devastating, always expertly paced. Few writers give me such consistent pleasure." -- Zadie Smith "She has such great psychological insights into human beings, which is rare. She is one of the best fiction writers writing today" -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie "A new Tessa Hadley is a pleasure to be savoured... The Past is a hugely enjoyable and keenly intelligent novel, brimming with the vitality of unruly desire." -- Sameer Rahim, four stars * Daily Telegraph * "Hadley is an exquisite writer, with a fine eye for detail and a way of crafting sentences that make you stop and inhale" * The Times * "Tessa Hadley recruits admirers with each book. She writes with authority, and with delicacy: she explores nuance, but speaks plainly; she is one of those writers a reader trusts." -- Hilary Mantel "Tessa Hadley has become one of this country's great contemporary novelists. She is equipped with an armoury of techniques and skills that may yet secure her a position as the greatest of them." -- Anthony Quinn * Guardian * "My favourite contemporary novelist... Nobody explores the mystery of relationships better than Hadley." -- Deborah Moggach "A masterful novel" * Spectator * "Tessa Hadley is funny, precise, sensuous, and one of the best writers of family life that you are ever likely to encounter - simultaneously sympathetic and penetrating" * Daily Mail Books of the Year * "She deserves all the prizes. Hadley is psychologically acute, drily witty and...absolutely wonderful on place" * Observer * "Splendid... Hadley's gift for depicting the interior lives of children and adults rivals Ian McEwan's" * Chicago Tribune * "Tessa Hadley excels at presenting the contrasting viewpoints of children, teenagers and adults, and her evocative descriptions of the English countryside are a delight." -- Anthony Gardner * Mail on Sunday * "Poetic, tender and full of wry humour. A delight" * Sunday Mirror * "Tender dissection of a certain sort of English middle-class life is magnificently done: half celebration, half elegy." -- Phil Baker * Sunday Times * "Tessa Hadley has an exquisite eye for detail." -- Joanne Finney * Good Housekeeping * "Full of wonders" * Observer * "A brilliant British take on two generations of family inhabiting the same house." -- Tim Martin * Daily Telegraph * "An astute and finely written novel" * Stylist * "Exquisite... For anyone who cherishes Anne Tyler and Alice Munro, the book offers similar deep pleasures. Hadley crystallizes the atmosphere of ordinary life in prose somehow miraculous and natural.... Extraordinary" * Washington Post * "An extremely affecting novel of cumulative richness, yet there is nothing ponderous about Hadley's sparkling and sensuous prose: she captures the comedy of family life brilliantly." -- Stephanie Cross * Lady *
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About Tessa Hadley

Tessa Hadley is the author of six highly praised novels, Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Everything Will Be All Right, The Master Bedroom, The London Train, Clever Girl and The Past, and three collections of stories, Sunstroke, Married Love and Bad Dreams. The Past won the Hawthornden Prize for 2016, and Bad Dreams won the 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She lives in London and is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in the New Yorker and other magazines.
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Rating details

5,304 ratings
3.16 out of 5 stars
5 9% (482)
4 28% (1,475)
3 39% (2,075)
2 18% (959)
1 6% (313)
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