Tessa Hadley is the author of four highly praised novels including Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Everything Will Be All Right, The Master Bedroom and The London Train. She is also the author of two highly acclaimed collections of short stories, Sunstroke and Married Love. She teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in The New Yorker, Granta and other magazines.
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Clever Girl, Jonathan Cape, 2013
Tessa Hadley's brilliant new novel 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 Stella's schooldays, two sons by different fathers who aren't 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.
Praise for Clever Girl
Literary Review “Sensational…an intimate narrative voice that renders people, places and experiences in vivid detail. [Hadley’s] mesmeric novel captures life’s unpredictable deviations and detours…[her] extraordinary skill as a novelist: to navigate and narrate the fleeting moments in an individual’s life when the future crystallises, by choice and circumstance, for good or for bad…CLEVER GIRL is a remarkable novel by one of this country’s finest, if most unassuming talents.”
The Sunday Times “Quietly brilliant, offering an incisive exploration into how life’s individual episodes add up to a meaningful whole…[Hadley is] adept at drawing out the unrecognisable from the everyday…What sets CLEVER GIRL apart…is Hadley’s use of the first person throughout. This allows her to enter Stella’s often tortured mind so completely that it brings a remarkable conviction to her tale, along with an intensity that is only heightened by the taut, quasi-formal nature of Hadley’s prose.”
The Daily Telegraph “Lives which are unsophisticated yet experienced intensely, and erudite prose are the distinguishing features of Tessa Hadley’s writing…Tessa Hadley is a sorceress of small things, whose superbly perceptive novels unearth and sift the particles of human experience that elude writers less alert.”
Mariella Fostrup on Radio 4 Open Book: “An addictive read…manages to take you deep into the heart of humanity and remain a page-turner. Tessa Hadley must soon be set to make it to the shortlists of our major book prizes.”
The Observer “Stella is a clever girl…and Hadley cleverer still. She makes one believe every word of Stella's story… Hadley writes as a masterly illustrator might draw…[her] eye for detail is penetrating. And having been born at roughly the same time as Stella, I can vouchsafe that her evocation of the decades is breathtakingly good. She conjures an atmosphere in less time than it takes to set a table.”
The Independent “Hadley is at her best…Stella rages ‘Why must the world of real things always be relegated to second place, as if it was a lesser order, as if everything abstract was higher and more meaningful?’ CLEVER GIRL shows why.”