Sunstroke and Other Stories

Overview

A Picador Paperback Original

Tessa Hadley's stories trace the currents of desire, desperation, and mischief that that lie hidden inside domestic relationships.

A mother hears her son's confession that he's cheating on his girlfriend; a student falls in love with a professor and initiates an affair with a man who looks just like him. A boy on a seaside vacation realizes that a grown-up woman is pressing ...

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Sunstroke and Other Stories

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Overview

A Picador Paperback Original

Tessa Hadley's stories trace the currents of desire, desperation, and mischief that that lie hidden inside domestic relationships.

A mother hears her son's confession that he's cheating on his girlfriend; a student falls in love with a professor and initiates an affair with a man who looks just like him. A boy on a seaside vacation realizes that a grown-up woman is pressing dangerously close.

In Tessa Hadley's stories, everyone conspires to hold the loving and stable surface of family life together, as old secrets and new appetites threaten to blow it apart.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Miraculous . . . Deft and resonant, [these stories] encapsulate moments of hope and humiliation in a kind of shorthand of different lives lived. Hadley never fails to surprise."—The New York Times Book Review

"Tessa Hadley's gift as a writer is so considerable that her characters' revelations and predicaments linger in the mind long after her narrative has darted off in other directions."—Alice Traux, The New York Times Book Review

"A warm novel that follows the contours of four generations of a family and, in the end, shows us ourselves."—Associated Press on Everything Will Be All Right

"Marvelously intricate . . . Hadley's intelligence puts her in the company of Carol Shields and Doris Lessing."—The Boston Globe on Accidents in the Home

Liesl Schillinger
…a collection of Hadley's miraculous short stories. Deft and resonant, they encapsulate moments of hope and humiliation in a kind of shorthand of different lives lived. Hadley never fails to surprise, but her surprises are understated—not the "aha" fakery of some gimmicky short fiction but the small shift in expectations or results that's deeply felt but doesn't show, like the twitch of a rudder that sets a boat gliding on a new course.
—The New York Times
Library Journal

The female protagonist in Hadley's first novel, Accidents in the Home, commits adultery to escape domestic drudgery and a lackluster marriage. In their desperation and plaintiveness about the loss of sexual vigor and the thrill of the tryst, the women in these 11 stories (ten previously published) are more like Philip Roth's men than Madame Bovary. In "Exchanges," an older woman who's an Old Testament miracle away from having another child sleeps with a much younger man. As a result, her friend ponders her own sexual life span and concludes that you're not in your right mind to indulge in that kind of adulterous love. Most of the time, though, Hadley is expert at catching her characters trying to reason their actions. The logic has the air of economics: two mothers feel a sensation of "sensual surplus"; one of them thinks her husband "owes" her the passionate kiss she gave a family friend; a man bumps into the woman who seduced him as a teenager and sleeps with her "as if he was claiming something he was owed." Hadley's stories span years, and her characters rarely end up where they started. While the changes they undergo and the realizations they come to aren't always seemly, they're thrilling to witness. Recommended for larger collections and where Hadley's work is popular.
—David Doerrer

Kirkus Reviews
Ten unorthodox stories demonstrate exactly how quiet desperation is the English way. It is not what happens but the significance of what doesn't that's so exquisitely illuminated by frequent New Yorker contributor Hadley (Everything Will Be Alright, 2003, etc.). In "Sunstroke," young mothers Rachel and Janie cope with six children at a beachside resort. Rachel muses that her husband's friend Kieran might be infatuated with her, but it's Janie Kieran kisses on a moonless nighttime stroll. "Buckets of Blood" shows a teenager assisting almost enviously at her older sister's miscarriage. Adult women look back on their love lives either with provisional relief that sexual tension is over ("Mother's Son") or with the dogged declaration that they will never again experience passion ("Exchanges"). In "Phosphorescence," Graham, who at 13 was toyed with by his parent's friend Claudia, seeks her out 25 years later, pressuring the grandmother of two to finally deliver on what she had once so ambiguously promised to do. "The Enemy" reviews the unsettling effect charismatic leftist student Keith had on Caro in 1968. Even though it was her sister who married and divorced him, the now stooped, balding, potbellied Keith still has the power to derail Caro's life merely by passing through it. Patrick, another intellectual with bad posture and a thickening middle, is the object of his student Carla's unrequited crush, or so she assumes when seducing "The Surrogate," a man who resembles Patrick. In "A Card Trick," established scholar Gina recalls the 1974 summer she spent with a wealthy family as a bookish, overweight 18-year-old. Her memory of tricking one of the household's adorable but dimwitted sonsintertwines with a repeat visit to her favorite Edwardian author's house, where she discovers, in a manuscript, a harrowing scene of hopeless longing that was abridged in the published novel. A collection of strikingly original narratives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312425999
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 7/24/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 446,742
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Tessa Hadley's first novel, Accidents in the Home, was longlisted for The Guardian's First Book Award. Four of the stories in Sunstroke were published in The New Yorker. Hadley lives in Cardiff, Wales. Her novel The Master Bedroom was published by Henry Holt in August 2007.

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