Impeccably literary, emotionally satisfying, yet unexpectedly unsettling ... Hadley always delivers fiction that cuts to the quick ... It could sound like a slight to be called dependably brilliant, but unquestionably, that’s what she is. She writes with an unrushed assurance and confidence that breeds comfort ... In her short stories, there’s less space to tone and then flex those literary muscles. It is essential to be nimble. While her novels are exquisite, knitted with plot and deep character development as well as a keen sense of space, her short stories lose nothing of that depth in their brevity. Hadley’s stories flicker vividly as powerful vignettes that compress personal histories, offering the reader entry into a brief period of time in which the characters upend perceptions.
Hadley lingers close to hearth and home, her dramas tighter and on a smaller scale ... Elegant ... Particularly perceptive about sibling frictions ... Hadley denies ...men that inward life; they’re mostly vain and incompetent ... A revelation for aficionados of the form, as vibrant and knowing as the best of Hadley’s celebrated career.
This new collection is a great introduction to her work and for those of us already familiar with Hadley, it’s a great addition. Throughout the collection, Hadley spins out character studies of (mostly) women at odds with themselves, their partners, their families, or life in general ... Hadley does a wonderful job of weaving past and present together as the sisters are forced to confront their memories and relationships. And, of course, there are those moments of shining prose ... Rife with deft and often beautiful prose, and astute but compassionate characterization, this is a wonderful collection.
Absorbing and thoroughly readable ... Her unpicking of character is focused, intense and yet always, somehow, in parallel, kind. What it does best is produce in the reader exactly what she offers her characters, for a sickening moment or two, in each story: a vast, difficult, unruly elation.
All 12 stories that make up After the Funeral are the work of a singular talent ...These are captivating stories, rich in character and fine-grained detail. Hadley's elegant prose is memorably descriptive ... Once again, Hadley entertains while offering shrewd, subtle insights into how we tick and the ties that bind us.
Like watching a magic show. There is suspense, but it is not the stressful, nauseating sort of a horror movie or domestic drama—it is the sweet suspense of enchantment. The reader has some sense of the hidden techniques being employed, but the final effect is still eye-widening and gasp-inducing ... It is startling how immiscible the various perspectives are, how out of touch with each other. Their shifts create intensely disarming conclusions, the most powerful being the collection’s title storyIt is startling how immiscible the various perspectives are, how out of touch with each other. Their shifts create intensely disarming conclusions, the most powerful being the collection’s title story ... Through this controlled and blunt study of human interiority, Hadley holds a mirror up to her readers without scaring them off. One is somehow implicated and forgiven simultaneously.
There’s no set formula, rather stories that offer slivers of enlightenment, confusion, loss, disenchantment, an occasional twist that feels earned. Hadley switches narrative modes with similar grace, first person to third, past to present, each one suiting the individual story ... Hadley is generous with character descriptions. Nothing is rushed.
As ever in her oeuvre, Hadley masterfully uses the smallest details...to convey class and character ... What is a mystery in real life – the inner world of others – is thrillingly revealed in Hadley’s fiction ... There is ample Hadley here to savour this summer.
It is hard to imagine stories more skilfully paced and polished than these ... Hadley is superb at catching an atmosphere – the character of a moment ... The most satisfying of the stories have a dot, dot, dot quality – continuing in our minds.
Families are at the heart of all 12 of these stories, but the subject never gets old in Hadley’s hands ... My one reservation about this collection, which I share about the three preceding it, are its first-personal stories. I never feel Hadley is as psychologically penetrating in the first person as she is in the third ... The failing doesn’t detract significantly from an otherwise magnificent collection.
While a couple of these dozen offerings are fragmentary, they are all good ... Hadley’s prose is cracking ... Often, like most good fiction, the prose profits not solely from well-crafted language but from observing something true ... Hadley’s classic sensibility reminds us that, underneath all the technological transformation, the human jealousies, disappointments, and yearnings that have always captivated fiction writers never change.
One of the book’s virtues is its coherence ... When subtlety falls flat, however, all that’s left is a damp squib and a few of these stories don’t quite take the turn they need to be satisfying ... But the strongest stories resonate, offering glimpses of the hidden selves we all conceal.
The 12 stories in After the Funeral, Tessa Hadley’s fourth collection, are tonics for our news-laden, overstimulated times. Like a favorite cat sitting on you, these short tales are at once intelligent and twisty, cozy and intimate. Even while you’re with them, you’re already wishing for them not to leave.
Life, Hadley shows us, is a web of chance: who our parents are, whom we meet, whom we love, whom we marry. We are formed by chance and sometimes liberated by it. The characters are so hauntingly real on the page that these lightly plotted stories are compelling page turners. Hadley’s understanding of her characters is complemented by her clear and lucid prose. Some stories may be stronger than others, but there’s not a dud in the lot.
Hadley has elevated middle-class domesticity, and the emotional ripples beneath it, into the realms of high art. While, on the surface, her stories seem resolutely old-fashioned, set as they are in the latter half of the 20th-century before the advent of smartphones and the internet, her depictions of buried disappointment and quiet yearning are timeless ... Hadley brings assurance and flair to these compressed stories which serve to expose some of her tried-and-tested writing methods ... Hadley is not one for neat endings, and several of these stories stop suddenly, often after detonating a bomb in the final page, the fallout of which is left to our imagination. Less stories with a beginning, middle and end, After the Funeral’s tales are closer to snapshots, self-contained portraits of a moment in time during which individuals reckon with their choices and, in some cases, opt for change.
A wedding, a dinner party, a vacation, and, yes, a funeral—all are worthy backdrops for celebrated fiction writer Hadley’s exquisite examination of humanity’s most perplexing foibles in her return to the short story ... Her characters’ motivations are mysteries even unto themselves, as is cunningly displayed in the title story, in which a widow’s affair with her boss snares her daughter in unforeseen ways.
The mastery she has honed over a decades-long career makes Hadley’s gaze as sharp as her empathy is expansive; each tale feels as satisfying as a full-length novel despite—or perhaps because of—the ambiguous endings. A pleasure to read, with characters and themes that linger long after the final page.