Readers hoping for a British telenovela will be disappointed. But for anyone who cherishes Anne Tyler and Alice Munro, the book offers similar deep pleasures. Like those North American masters of the domestic realm, Hadley crystallizes the atmosphere of ordinary life in prose somehow miraculous and natural. If the surface of her stories is lightly etched with charm and humor, darker forces burrow underneath.
“The Past can feel blurry, with too much prosaic spelling out of what her characters are feeling. Nonetheless, Hadley’s many fans will welcome this solid addition to her continuing narrative of how brainy women and blundering men negotiate the slippery class and sex wars of modern-day Britain.