Late in the Day
The lives of two close-knit couples are irrevocably changed by an untimely death in the latest from Tessa Hadley, the acclaimed novelist and short story master who “recruits admirers with each book” (Hilary Mantel).Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

Late in the Day Details

TitleLate in the Day
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 15th, 2019
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062476692
Rating
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Late in the Day Review

  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    The two couples were the closest of friends—Alex and Christine, and Zach and Lydia. Before all four met each other, Lydia and Christine were friends from school, as were Alex and Zach. When they all were living in England, their families spent a great deal of time together, and even their daughters grew up together. While they each shared some similarities, each was very different from one another.One night, Alex and Christine plan for a quiet evening, when the idyll is broken by a phone call. L The two couples were the closest of friends—Alex and Christine, and Zach and Lydia. Before all four met each other, Lydia and Christine were friends from school, as were Alex and Zach. When they all were living in England, their families spent a great deal of time together, and even their daughters grew up together. While they each shared some similarities, each was very different from one another.One night, Alex and Christine plan for a quiet evening, when the idyll is broken by a phone call. Lydia is calling from the hospital to say that Zach died suddenly. The two are utterly shocked by Lydia's news, and rush quickly to tend to her, to tell Lydia and Zach's daughter, Grace, who is in school in Glasgow, and to handle the details that are necessary when such a tragedy occurs.How do you help a friend who is grieving the death of her husband when you, too, are grieving the death of a cherished friend? What words can convey support while not focusing too heavily on your own loss? Alex and Christine feel unmoored, as if a part of them has died, as jovial, big-hearted, creative Zach always seemed to bring rationality and heart into their relationships with one another. Lydia is unsure of what to do—she is unable to tend to Zach's affairs, or even process the thought of being alone in their house without him.Yet when Lydia moves in temporarily with Alex and Christine, being all together doesn't help assuage their grief. What it does instead is bring to the surface the difficulties in Alex and Christine's relationship, and unearth hidden feelings among the three of them which were buried a long time ago. Without Zach, the cracks become apparent in all of their relationships, but for a time they keep their peace out of respect for his death."Anyway, she didn't think any longer about the truth in that same way: as a core underneath a series of obfuscations and disguises. In the long run, weren't the disguises just as interesting, weren't they real too? She and Alex were so unlike, really: associated through some accident in their youth—the accident of his choosing her, because of what he thought she was. Since that beginning, they had both changed their skins so often. Marriage simply meant that you hung on to each other through the succession of metamorphoses. Or failed to."Shifting back and forth between the early days of their relationships and the present, Late in the Day is an examination of the strange ways grief manifests itself, how it reignites old passions, opens old wounds, and creates friction in places there never was any before. It's a look at how we think of close friends as part of our family, but yet there are times we realize friends are no substitute for our family.Tessa Hadley is a very talented writer, and she has a keen eye for dialogue and character development. From the very outset I predicted how the story would unfold, and I'll admit I was a little disappointed, because it seemed almost too predictable. I really never understood what the characters saw in each other except the pull of gravity keeping them together, and I felt that Lydia, Christine, and Alex were fairly unlikable, full of recriminations yet unwilling to say what's on their mind.I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped I would. I found the pacing to be very slow (the flashbacks, while edifying as to how the characters got to where we are now, dragged on for far too long) and things seemed a bit disjointed at times. I also wasn't sure what message Hadley was sending with the way she tied things up. I read Hadley's The Past a number of years ago and found it very enjoyable, and I also enjoyed her collection of short stories, Bad Dreams and Other Stories . While Late in the Day wasn't a winner for me, I'll definitely keep reading Hadley's work, because I do love the way she writes.See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written! Two couples have been the best of friends since their twenties. For over thirty years, it’s been Zach and Lydia and Alex and Christine through it all. One night Christine and Alex receive a call from Lydia. Zach has unexpectedly passed away. Interestingly, all the friends agree that Zach was the best of the group. They put him on a posthumous pedestal and grief swallows their days. Lydia is having such a difficult time, Alex and Christine have her move in with them. But this Beautifully written! Two couples have been the best of friends since their twenties. For over thirty years, it’s been Zach and Lydia and Alex and Christine through it all. One night Christine and Alex receive a call from Lydia. Zach has unexpectedly passed away. Interestingly, all the friends agree that Zach was the best of the group. They put him on a posthumous pedestal and grief swallows their days. Lydia is having such a difficult time, Alex and Christine have her move in with them. But this closeness in their grief is not a good thing. Their friendships are now in jeopardy. Late in the Day is all about the characters, how they experience loss, and highlighting the complex dynamics of close relationships. The writing is beautiful and so easy to read. I also found it insightful, sensitive, and brilliant. Hadley exposed these characters’ innermost feelings, which are not always pretty or expected. Tessa Hadley has written an emotional tale of friendship and love, heartbreak and grief, with this intensely and intentionally drawn character study, relatable, very much human, characters, and an intricately woven dynamic of intimate relationships in adulthood. I loved this one! Thanks to Harper Books for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Ron Charles
    January 1, 1970
    With each new book by Tessa Hadley, I grow more convinced that she’s one of the greatest stylists alive. The British author of seven novels and several story collections, Hadley regularly inspires such praise, but her success was hardly a foregone conclusion. Her first novel, “Accidents in the Home,” didn’t appear until she was 46, practically geriatric compared with those wunderkinds who secure contracts at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and graduate into a field of laurels.There are compensations, With each new book by Tessa Hadley, I grow more convinced that she’s one of the greatest stylists alive. The British author of seven novels and several story collections, Hadley regularly inspires such praise, but her success was hardly a foregone conclusion. Her first novel, “Accidents in the Home,” didn’t appear until she was 46, practically geriatric compared with those wunderkinds who secure contracts at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and graduate into a field of laurels.There are compensations, though, for achieving literary success later in life. Unable to sell her first stories while she was raising a family, Hadley went back to school and wrote a PhD thesis on Henry James. That long immersion in James’s canon offered a study of psychological acuity that now illuminates Hadley’s work. But her quietly elegant style and muted wit are triumphs all her own. To read Hadley’s fiction is to grow self-conscious in the best way: to recognize with astonishment the emotions playing behind our own expressions, to hear articulated our own inchoate anxieties.Her previous book, “The Past” — one of the best novels of 2016 — involves four adult siblings enjoying their last vacation in a summer cottage. It focuses on the passing of a beloved era, a melancholy transition that everyone knows will reshape their relations to each other.Her new novel, “Late in the Day,” zeros in on a similar, but more dire moment of adjustment that arrives with the speed of a swinging scythe. The story involves two married couples who have known each other since their university days. Lydia is married to Zachary, a wealthy man who owns a London art gallery. Christine is married to Alex, a poet who teaches at a primary school. On the opening page, Lydia calls from the hospital with news that Zachary has suffered a heart attack. Christine listens in alarm for several minutes before asking, “Are they going to operate?”“I told you,” Lydia says. . . .To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    Tessa Hadley is a master of her craft with writing that is consistently beautiful while seemingly effortless, displaying remarkable perception and uncanny insight when exploring human connection and the inner thoughts and feeling of her characters, never shying away from the faults and flaws found in an actual life. She is an author that never rings false to me, always exhibiting an honesty and, I suppose, an innate wisdom in her writing. Her new novel, which explores the way in which tragedy an Tessa Hadley is a master of her craft with writing that is consistently beautiful while seemingly effortless, displaying remarkable perception and uncanny insight when exploring human connection and the inner thoughts and feeling of her characters, never shying away from the faults and flaws found in an actual life. She is an author that never rings false to me, always exhibiting an honesty and, I suppose, an innate wisdom in her writing. Her new novel, which explores the way in which tragedy and loss can adversely affect the lives of longtime friends, is no exception. Hadley is uncanny in her ability to peel back the complex feelings and expose the often less than admirable reactions to the situation her characters face. The story, written in alternating chapters, looks at the characters in their impressionable youth, filled with passion and ideas, and the present day, the characters now older and, if not slightly disillusioned, certainly complacent with their situations until an unforeseen death (which occurs in the opening pages) upends their lives. It is a poignant look at love, commitment and that frequently inevitable question posed in later life regarding one’s purpose and accomplishments. Whether new to Hadley or a fan like myself, I hope readers find this a moving and satisfying novel.
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  • Bonnie Brody
    January 1, 1970
    Tessa Hadley's writing is like a specific taste - think cilantro, marzipan, or liver. You either like it immediately or it doesn't mesh with your tastes. I found myself trying very hard to get into the flow of the narrative but it was like an undertow. No matter how hard I tried to stay afoot, I kept going down. The novel begins with the death of Zachary, a charismatic man, cultured, strong and assured in every way, a gallery owner and part of the London art scene. Of all the people in his circl Tessa Hadley's writing is like a specific taste - think cilantro, marzipan, or liver. You either like it immediately or it doesn't mesh with your tastes. I found myself trying very hard to get into the flow of the narrative but it was like an undertow. No matter how hard I tried to stay afoot, I kept going down. The novel begins with the death of Zachary, a charismatic man, cultured, strong and assured in every way, a gallery owner and part of the London art scene. Of all the people in his circle, he was the one they never suspected would die, despite all of them getting on in years and having grown children. Despite his friends' beliefs in his near immortality, Zachary keels over in his gallery, hitting his head on his desk. Christine and Alex, Zachary and Lydia's closest friends, are listening to a piece of music by Mozart when the phone rings. It is Lydia, Zachary's wife, telling them about his death. She sounds as if she's half in shock while being quite histrionic at the same time. Christine wants to leave right away to be with Lydia but her husband, Alex, tells her they must wait for the Mozart piece to finish. This is where I paused - she actually listened to him?Lydia, Christine, Zachary, and Alex go way back to college days when they first met. Alex was a married French teacher whose class Lydia was in. Despite his not noticing her, Lydia devises a plot to steal Alex from his wife. Fast forward and now Alex is married to Christine. This is a very enmeshed group of friends. The night after Zachary's death, Christine finds Lydia standing at the foot of the bed she shares with Alex and invites her to join them, to lie between them both for the night. (I have to admit that I made notes on the inside of my book cover as to who was who and who they were with when.)Their children also play a part in the book. Lydia doesn't want to see Zachary's dead body while her art student daughter Grace wants to make a death mask of him. Grace also has a tremendous crush on Sam, Alex's son from his first marriage. Sam is now a famous musician and Grace's feelings are not reciprocated. This is all a very posh group, boarding school background and a lot of money, at least for Lydia and Zachary. I saw it as a 'cultured' version of 'The Big Chill' sans the fun and jollity. If you like the British upper crust, mostly humorless and full of themselves, this book might appeal to you. The characters are very self-absorbed, take their drama with their tea, and find themselves very interesting. Maybe they are an acquired taste and I'm wrong to compare the book to marzipan or cilantro. I have enjoyed some of Ms. Hadley's short stories but I think this novel, as it goes back and forth in time, describing characters I'd never want to know, is way off the mark.
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  • switterbug (Betsey)
    January 1, 1970
    It opens with a death right in the middle of (possibly) Schubert. We are about to meet all the London characters, and the dead man, Zachary, going back and forth in time to include a quartet of married friends and their three adult children (two are younger adults) and then the shock and grief when he leaves them behind. The death, unlike the music, is certain.Zachary’s death was sudden and unexpected, his wife, Lydia, broken in pieces. These are friendships that go back thirty-plus years. Hadle It opens with a death right in the middle of (possibly) Schubert. We are about to meet all the London characters, and the dead man, Zachary, going back and forth in time to include a quartet of married friends and their three adult children (two are younger adults) and then the shock and grief when he leaves them behind. The death, unlike the music, is certain.Zachary’s death was sudden and unexpected, his wife, Lydia, broken in pieces. These are friendships that go back thirty-plus years. Hadley has a particular style—delicate and filled with the gentle piquancy of art in the midst of all that is despairing, which anchors the story and also gives it an ethereal quality. You don’t read Hadley for the plot or action—you read it for the characters and story, layers of complex human psychology, the vibrations of life, life itself in somber tones.“In her mind she understood how sex and death were both part of the mystery of entrances and exits, both opening onto this same strange place where they all belonged now, in the sudden shadow of Zachary’s death.” And that is the locus, or the abyss, of these four lives (and their children, to a degree). The novel is primarily an internal, meditative narrative for the reader, but also how our actions have long-term consequences.There’s a chapter chunk in Venice, Italy, which is rendered exquisitely by Hadley. It brought me back to my time there, and she captured the light and colors so beautifully that it felt physical, palpable. On the cover, within the title, is likely pieces of the Tiepolo ceiling in the Scuola dei Carmini. In this poignant backdrop, a mirror is held up to the past, both literally and figuratively, which brings the past, present, and future into stark relief for two art lovers and close friends. It’s the scene in the book I have read multiple times, and, like a bouillon cube, it concentrates the narrative to represent the essence of the grand theme. I won’t give anything away, as it is imperative for the readers to alight on their own discoveries.This is a novel for Hadley fans and literature lovers, so be forewarned that the movement is often inward, but the stakes are high, the cost steep, and the outcome inescapable.
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    The more you know about an author, the better you can understand and appreciate their work. Late in the Day, the title, could apply to Hadley as well as to her characters, and knowing a bit of her history, of her coming to novelizations later than most, goes well to inform the reader of why she is so insightful in her creation of characters mature in outlook and experience. The two couples that form the nucleus of this book are prime examples. Although they met while young and developed close al The more you know about an author, the better you can understand and appreciate their work. Late in the Day, the title, could apply to Hadley as well as to her characters, and knowing a bit of her history, of her coming to novelizations later than most, goes well to inform the reader of why she is so insightful in her creation of characters mature in outlook and experience. The two couples that form the nucleus of this book are prime examples. Although they met while young and developed close alliances under different circumstances, each of the four is presented flaws and all in their self examinations and responses to one another. The death of one of them in the first pages sets in motion upheavals that reverberate throughout until the final page, the final revelation. Having read and appreciated this book, I plan on revisiting some of Hadley's earlier works and giving them a second chance.Addendum: Last night I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Ms. Hadley. She is charming, forthcoming, and generous with her experience. One of my favorite take-aways was her delight in houses, setting the scene, how with only a few observations, a writer can create a stage upon which to set her players.
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  • Libby
    January 1, 1970
    I was absolutely blown away by Tessa Hadley’s writing style in Late in the Day. Intrigued from the very first page with the slow burn of tension, the intuitive understanding of marital relationships,the deep loyalties and limitations of friendships, as well as the beauty and depth of her prose; it was pure pleasure to sink into these pages. As well as beauty, her story reveals the profound sadness we all feel at loss; the absolute grief when the beloved is absent, silent at the last. With the k I was absolutely blown away by Tessa Hadley’s writing style in Late in the Day. Intrigued from the very first page with the slow burn of tension, the intuitive understanding of marital relationships,the deep loyalties and limitations of friendships, as well as the beauty and depth of her prose; it was pure pleasure to sink into these pages. As well as beauty, her story reveals the profound sadness we all feel at loss; the absolute grief when the beloved is absent, silent at the last. With the keenness of grief, the bare bones of death, secrets may be laid bare, even secrets we have held from ourselves.Lydia Smith and Christine Drinkwater meet at school. Lydia becomes enamored with her married French class professor, Alexandr Klimec. When Alex's marriage dissolves, he still seems unavailable. Even though Lydia, and therefore Christine, have been going to the bar where they know he’ll be, he is not interested in Lydia, who's somewhat of a siren. However, Alex’s friend, Zachary Samuels is falling in love with Lydia. These people seem to become who they are in part through their friendships. The two men are vastly different as are the two women, and it’s such a wonderfully in-depth and complex character study, that it made me think of my own friendships and the impact they’ve had on me. Lydia eventually marries Zachary, and later Alex will marry Christine; four people who will generously share their lives together and their daughters will become fast friends. The novel opens as Alex, a would-be writer, who has become a teacher, and Christine, an artist, share an evening at home. Immediately Hadley casts a web of drama, showing us a little bit of the marital tension, but some sweetness as well. With a mise-en-scène that effectively pans the world she creates, Hadley invokes rich visual imagery, sounds, and smells. Then there’s the ring of the phone. Jarring; all of a sudden their world is off kilter. My favorite character is Zachary. Lovely, lovely man. Enthusiastic and dear, Christine thinks that good things happen to him simply because he expects them to. Hadley will weave the narrative between the present day and the past, filling the reader in on all that happens before the opening evening, and the unanticipated phone call. She makes it all feel poignant, the 20/20 vision we’ll need to see everything clearly. Close to the end, I started thinking, how is she going to pull this together? Bittersweet, I think; of course, the ending is perfect.
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  • Claire Fuller
    January 1, 1970
    Two middle-aged couples (Christine and Alex, and Lydia and Zachary) have been friends for many years, when suddenly Zachary dies. This novel is about the repercussions of his death and how that changes the relationships of the three that are left. It's a study of character (the plot is very slight), but Hadley writes the nuances, the inconsistencies, the foibles of character - whether that's the main ones, or more minor players - so brilliantly. How her characters speak, think and move makes the Two middle-aged couples (Christine and Alex, and Lydia and Zachary) have been friends for many years, when suddenly Zachary dies. This novel is about the repercussions of his death and how that changes the relationships of the three that are left. It's a study of character (the plot is very slight), but Hadley writes the nuances, the inconsistencies, the foibles of character - whether that's the main ones, or more minor players - so brilliantly. How her characters speak, think and move makes them completely whole and human: Sandy, a young child, 'wept and pressed himself against the crack in the door as if he could squeeze through it after his mother'.
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  • Sarah Boon
    January 1, 1970
    My first Tessa Hadley book. I found the lack of plot a bit difficult sometimes - the book hinges entirely on characters' actions. And some of those actions were odd. For example, if your best friend's husband had died and she was staying in your guestroom, would you let her into your bed with you and your husband when she was cold? When a girl's father dies, would you track her down to the squat where she's sleeping with some random guy she's only just met, and sit on the floor by the bed until My first Tessa Hadley book. I found the lack of plot a bit difficult sometimes - the book hinges entirely on characters' actions. And some of those actions were odd. For example, if your best friend's husband had died and she was staying in your guestroom, would you let her into your bed with you and your husband when she was cold? When a girl's father dies, would you track her down to the squat where she's sleeping with some random guy she's only just met, and sit on the floor by the bed until she wakes up? I wasn't entirely convinced of the characters. They seemed like caricatures of themselves, playing a part in a play. On a complete side note, why was it ok for Christine to cheat on Alex with Zachary, but not Alex to cheat on Christine with Lydia, Zachary's widow?UPDATE: I reread the book and also interviewed the author and I realized I liked the book more than I thought, and those problematic scenes actually did fit into the fabric of the narrative. So I'm changing my crotchety negative review to a positive one.
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  • Andrienne
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, I was completely taken by the emotion heft of the complex relationships in this story. Christine and Alex and their friendship with Lydia and Zachary goes way back and through past and present the reader becomes intimate with their struggles and their entanglements. When Zachary dies so suddenly, the thread that binds the four together rips and unravels all those left behind. The plot may be simple, but the insights are so fresh and lyrical. Advance copy provided by the publisher without ex Wow, I was completely taken by the emotion heft of the complex relationships in this story. Christine and Alex and their friendship with Lydia and Zachary goes way back and through past and present the reader becomes intimate with their struggles and their entanglements. When Zachary dies so suddenly, the thread that binds the four together rips and unravels all those left behind. The plot may be simple, but the insights are so fresh and lyrical. Advance copy provided by the publisher without expectation of a favorable review.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    My BookPage review and a link to an interview. https://bookpage.com/reviews/23504-te...
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    There were times when I did not know whether I could separate personal experience from my love of this novel, but Hadley is so brilliant that I was able to do so. Two couples with nearly lifelong friendships become unmoored when when one dies unexpectedly. The characters become real almost immediately, and the plotting is terrific.
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  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    So beautifully written and complicated. Each turn in the plot is unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable. It keeps you on your toes emotionally and does not give you satisfaction in the facts. The satisfaction is in the brilliant text and the complex characters.
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  • Cherise Wolas
    January 1, 1970
    There is Lydia Smith and Christine Drinkwater, best friends since high school. There is Alexandr Klimec and Zachary Samuels, best friends since boarding school. The friendship and married lives of these four will be entwined over the decades. As a young woman, Lydia is obsessed with the sardonic Czech-born erstwhile poet Alexandr who teaches Lydia and Christine French, but she is of no interest to him, and she will marry Zachary and they will have a daughter named Grace. Christine will briefly d There is Lydia Smith and Christine Drinkwater, best friends since high school. There is Alexandr Klimec and Zachary Samuels, best friends since boarding school. The friendship and married lives of these four will be entwined over the decades. As a young woman, Lydia is obsessed with the sardonic Czech-born erstwhile poet Alexandr who teaches Lydia and Christine French, but she is of no interest to him, and she will marry Zachary and they will have a daughter named Grace. Christine will briefly date Zachary, and then Alexandr will choose her and they will marry and have a daughter named Isobel. When Zachary suddenly dies, this intimate quartet with decades of history becomes a further complicated triangle. Hadley is wonderful at dissecting moments and states of consciousness and following mental and philosophical digressions. And the characters are both old-fashioned and completely modern. A wonderful novel.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful novel whose plot, themes- and careful attention to style- reminded me of Penelope Lively's Consequences and Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety. Hadley questions how we choose our mates and companions- whether we pick the people that draw us out, that support our work, that help us create- and whether the person who most successfully does that changes over the course of our lives. Despite the emotional cost of that question, she argues for openness to it, accusing Millennials of bei A beautiful novel whose plot, themes- and careful attention to style- reminded me of Penelope Lively's Consequences and Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety. Hadley questions how we choose our mates and companions- whether we pick the people that draw us out, that support our work, that help us create- and whether the person who most successfully does that changes over the course of our lives. Despite the emotional cost of that question, she argues for openness to it, accusing Millennials of being Puritanical more than once- in both their beliefs about sex and relationships and in the art they make. She pushes against absolutism and makes a case for nuance- especially as it can be explored through the detail of realism.
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  • James Beggarly
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful novel of two couples who have been friends for decades and what happens when one of them suddenly passes away. We see how all the dynamics change between the survivors and get flashbacks of how they met and became friends in alternating chapters. Always such a smart and thoughtful author. It’s a joy to see whatever she comes up with.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written. Each page separately is enjoyable to read. But as a whole this book was hard for me to connect with. Nothing to pull me through to really care about.
  • Rocky (theurbanbookshelf)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for my honest review. Unfortunately I DNF'ed this one after 60 pages. It was very beautifully written don't get me wrong, but it just wasn't for me.
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Understated portrait of middle-age relationships. No real plot, a strange dialogue style, and occasionally dull characters made this difficult to finish - I enjoyed it while I was reading, but never really had a strong urge to come back to it, and almost moved on to other things. 3 1/2 stars.
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  • Anna Meaney
    January 1, 1970
    “Their world was privileged even in its grieving; there wasn’t any moral meaning to Zachary’s death, it wasn’t an injustice. And yet it undid them all.” Lydia and Christine, Alex and Zachary have been best friends for years, cemented by the marriages of Lydia and Zach and Alex and Christine. However, their lives are upended when Zach unexpectedly dies. Completely lost, Lydia temporarily moves in with Christine and Alex. The once close friends find that their loss brings up old hostilities and f “Their world was privileged even in its grieving; there wasn’t any moral meaning to Zachary’s death, it wasn’t an injustice. And yet it undid them all.” Lydia and Christine, Alex and Zachary have been best friends for years, cemented by the marriages of Lydia and Zach and Alex and Christine. However, their lives are upended when Zach unexpectedly dies. Completely lost, Lydia temporarily moves in with Christine and Alex. The once close friends find that their loss brings up old hostilities and feelings that all three thought were long buried. In chapters that alternate between the present and the past, we find out how these four people came together as a way of understanding why they are coming apart. The premise of the story was what drew me to this book, but I stayed for the writing. The story, ultimately, is not that interesting. Many of the characters are extremely unlikable, and I found their choices to be unsympathetic and honestly a little confusing, even the face of such a tragic loss. Lydia is extremely vapid and selfish, Alex is just cruel and condescending, Christine is timid and meek, and even Zach has no understanding of privilege. They deserve each other. I did appreciate the back and forth between the past and the present, as the past comes to inform the actions of the characters in the present. The past chapters, however, did seem a little long, as did chapters where the focus was not on the three friends but on their children. The choice to invest in the children, Grace and Isobel, never fully paid off. There is something to say about agency in this story. The main revelation of the past is that in the very beginning, it was (view spoiler)[ Lydia and Alex and Christine and Zach. However, somewhere down the road, the couples are switched. (hide spoiler)] In many ways, it seems like the women are just along for the ride. (view spoiler)[ Zach prefers Lydia even while he’s dating Christine, so they might as well switch, even if these new pairings might make less sense. (hide spoiler)] While the novel is billed as being about the surviving three members of the friend group, it is really about Christine’s evolution. Lydia and Alex stay as selfish and terrible as ever, (view spoiler)[ culminating in their affair, a pairing which made little sense to me. (hide spoiler)] It is Christine who comes to her own as she finds herself outside of being with Alex, outside of his opinions and intrusions. I find this to be a little too simplistic, however. Christine is forced to autonomy by (view spoiler)[ the actions of Alex and Lydia (hide spoiler)] so it’s less impactful than if she had come to the realization on her own. What stands out about this book is really the writing. Hadley has a way of including little details about her characters that flesh them out as people. She makes some of the most mundane things beautiful by the way she writes about them. I would gladly read something else by her.
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  • Patty
    January 1, 1970
    Late In The DayByTessa HadleyWhat it's all about...Alex and Christine...Zachary and Lydia...are couples who have been friends for a long long time. Zachary dies suddenly and the lives of the three remaining friends become chaotic. Lydia can not bear to be alone so she moves in with Alex and Christine. Her belongings are everywhere...she is a bit out of control and one night she even crawls into bed with Christine and Alex. Rather than friends pulling together during a tragedy these friends seem Late In The DayByTessa HadleyWhat it's all about...Alex and Christine...Zachary and Lydia...are couples who have been friends for a long long time. Zachary dies suddenly and the lives of the three remaining friends become chaotic. Lydia can not bear to be alone so she moves in with Alex and Christine. Her belongings are everywhere...she is a bit out of control and one night she even crawls into bed with Christine and Alex. Rather than friends pulling together during a tragedy these friends seem to be falling apart. Lydia breaks all boundaries. Why I wanted to read it...The summary for this book drew me in. These friends were friends for a long time. Before they were married they even dated each other’s husbands. They each had unique personalities. They seemed to make far too many allowances for each other’s odd behaviors. What made me truly enjoy this book...I loved reading about each different personality. Christine and Lydia went to elementary school together. They couldn’t be more different and yet they were besties for a long time. The lives of their children were also affected by the actions of these parents. The author does an excellent job of making the reader feel for each of these characters. I felt sympathy, shock, anger and frustration. My least favorite character will always be Lydia. I felt tons of empathy for Christine. I liked the way the author completed this story. The ending felt just right. Why you should read it, too...I received an advance reader’s copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss and Amazon. It was my choice to read it and review it.
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  • Cflack
    January 1, 1970
    Tessa Hadley writing is insightful and thoughtful as it untangles the 30 year relationships among 2 women friends who marry 2 men friends, although possibly the wrong ones. After the sudden death of one of the men, the three remaining and their grown children must adapt to the changing dynamics among them.In addition to getting fully fleshed out characterizations of the four main protagonists, Hadley does a wonderful job in describing the push and pull of 30 year marriages - the compromises made Tessa Hadley writing is insightful and thoughtful as it untangles the 30 year relationships among 2 women friends who marry 2 men friends, although possibly the wrong ones. After the sudden death of one of the men, the three remaining and their grown children must adapt to the changing dynamics among them.In addition to getting fully fleshed out characterizations of the four main protagonists, Hadley does a wonderful job in describing the push and pull of 30 year marriages - the compromises made, the secrets kept, the chafing of people as they change when they grow older. As is common when an traumatic event happens, people begin to question themselves and their happiness when confronted with an unexpected event. Through Hadley we get to see the inner thoughts and musings of the survivors as they contemplate their past lives and question where they want to go.Through flashbacks over 30 years we get to see these people - Alex, Zachary, Christine and Lydia at many points in their relationships and couplings which delicately adds to the complexity of these 4 and their intertwined friendship. Weaving through these relationships are issues related to artists and their ambivalence toward their art, women subjugating their needs to their husbands, and differences between mothers and daughters.
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  • Lorri Steinbacher
    January 1, 1970
    In Late in the Day, Hadley takes on the nature of relationships: romantic and platonic, friends and lovers, their beginnings and their ends, and all of the boring and messy stuff that we pack in between. She makes you feel like a witness to a friend's break-up. You are on the outside, you can see the different ways the thing might go, but you can only look on, offer support when you can and let what was set in motion (probably from day one of each relationship) take its course. The motivating ev In Late in the Day, Hadley takes on the nature of relationships: romantic and platonic, friends and lovers, their beginnings and their ends, and all of the boring and messy stuff that we pack in between. She makes you feel like a witness to a friend's break-up. You are on the outside, you can see the different ways the thing might go, but you can only look on, offer support when you can and let what was set in motion (probably from day one of each relationship) take its course. The motivating event is the death of the person who we soon realize was the glue holding these various pairings together and what happens when that glue loosens. And although the lives of the children, Grace and Isobel are ancillary to the main story, it is fascinating to watch how the two girls mirror their parents mistakes or perhaps illustrate the "path not taken" (I'm still trying to decide which). If you are a "complex relationship" book person you will love this. Recommended for fans of Meg Wolitzer.
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  • Don Simpson
    January 1, 1970
    I read her last story in The New Yorker, "Cecilia Awakened" (I never read New Yorker stories) and sought out Clever Girl (2013), both of which I loved. I was hooked. I couldn't wait for this one; I found it a bit hard to follow in spots - whose daughter was whose? - and had trouble picturing these characters in spots, or wanting to impose my own visuals on them. Whenever privileged, successful creative careers are involved in a fictional narrative, I'm always a bit skeptical, and I found some of I read her last story in The New Yorker, "Cecilia Awakened" (I never read New Yorker stories) and sought out Clever Girl (2013), both of which I loved. I was hooked. I couldn't wait for this one; I found it a bit hard to follow in spots - whose daughter was whose? - and had trouble picturing these characters in spots, or wanting to impose my own visuals on them. Whenever privileged, successful creative careers are involved in a fictional narrative, I'm always a bit skeptical, and I found some of the artsy intrigue reminiscent of the BBC's "As Time Goes By." But the richness of description is wonderful, and in the end I felt I knew these characters. I plan to go back and reread parts of it because I didn't want it to end. What I love about her work is the grown-up look back on the world since the Baby Boom; she has a broad and generous view of the cultural history we've traveled since the 1960s that is sorely lacking in the real world at the moment.
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    Wish I had liked this more as I normally love Tessa Hadley. While the writing is superb as usual, the characters don't seem to rise to the level of the serious themes that Hadley is exploring. Two couples who I think are in their fifties have enjoyed a close friendship ever since they were young in one way or another. As the book opens Zach has suddenly died and now the comfortable rhythms of their friendship has been disrupted by the emotional upheaval of Zach's death. And that is about it in t Wish I had liked this more as I normally love Tessa Hadley. While the writing is superb as usual, the characters don't seem to rise to the level of the serious themes that Hadley is exploring. Two couples who I think are in their fifties have enjoyed a close friendship ever since they were young in one way or another. As the book opens Zach has suddenly died and now the comfortable rhythms of their friendship has been disrupted by the emotional upheaval of Zach's death. And that is about it in terms of plot, although Hadley does shed light on their past with some backstory. None of the characters are particularly likeable nor do they show much intelligence in my opinion. This wouldn't necessarily matter, but in such a slow, insular plot where we spend so much time with their inner thoughts, it would have helped make this a more enjoyable book for me.
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  • Reading Fool
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.This is the story of two couples - Alex and Christine, Zachary and Lydia - who have been friends since they were students. The novel begins with the sudden death of Zachary and what the remaining three do to survive the immediate trauma. In alternating chapters set in the present and in the past, we learn about how the relationships among these four came to be. Though strong and long-lasting, the friendships are also delicate and fragil I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.This is the story of two couples - Alex and Christine, Zachary and Lydia - who have been friends since they were students. The novel begins with the sudden death of Zachary and what the remaining three do to survive the immediate trauma. In alternating chapters set in the present and in the past, we learn about how the relationships among these four came to be. Though strong and long-lasting, the friendships are also delicate and fragile. Tessa Hadley's prose is also delicate yet strong; it is poetic and uplifting despite the subject matter. Worth savoring every word.
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  • Sally Drake
    January 1, 1970
    I read a lot of domestic fiction, it’s my favorite genre by far, and this taut, tense novel is transcendent in its emotional insight into the most complicated human relationships. It is about the impact of a sudden and tragic death on two married couples, lifelong friends living in London. The death plunges the three friends into desperate grief as Hadley deftly tells the story of their shared past, maneuvering between time and character fluidly describing the depth of their intertwined, enmeshe I read a lot of domestic fiction, it’s my favorite genre by far, and this taut, tense novel is transcendent in its emotional insight into the most complicated human relationships. It is about the impact of a sudden and tragic death on two married couples, lifelong friends living in London. The death plunges the three friends into desperate grief as Hadley deftly tells the story of their shared past, maneuvering between time and character fluidly describing the depth of their intertwined, enmeshed lives. There is drama and conflict but ultimately the novel is a deep, moving, elegant examination of love, marriage and friendship and how these change and evolve over three decades of life.
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  • Jamckean
    January 1, 1970
    This is a hard novel to rate… Five stars for the writing; it is breathtaking, much like Hadley’s previous novels. Her impeccably drawn characters are so perfectly flawed; revealing the good, the bad and the ugly of relationships, between spouses and friends. I think it is her brutal honestly of the damage people can wreck on one another - especially to the people we love - that gave me pause. These are not people you want to spend more time with once you’ve “turned the last page,” hence the thre This is a hard novel to rate… Five stars for the writing; it is breathtaking, much like Hadley’s previous novels. Her impeccably drawn characters are so perfectly flawed; revealing the good, the bad and the ugly of relationships, between spouses and friends. I think it is her brutal honestly of the damage people can wreck on one another - especially to the people we love - that gave me pause. These are not people you want to spend more time with once you’ve “turned the last page,” hence the three stars.
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  • Lovely Loveday
    January 1, 1970
    Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley is an emotional read that is sure to draw you into a world of complex relationships and the struggles that many people face in life. A story of friendship that goes way back with their struggles and entanglements. A simple fast-paced read that is sure to hold your attention until the end. Hadley writes with a subtle tone that slowly pulls away the layers to reveal the plot at just the right time. Late in the Day is an interesting story that you may need a box of t Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley is an emotional read that is sure to draw you into a world of complex relationships and the struggles that many people face in life. A story of friendship that goes way back with their struggles and entanglements. A simple fast-paced read that is sure to hold your attention until the end. Hadley writes with a subtle tone that slowly pulls away the layers to reveal the plot at just the right time. Late in the Day is an interesting story that you may need a box of tissue when reading.
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