Late in the Day

Adam Mars-Jones writes:

The autumnal title of Tessa Hadley’s new novel, almost in the resigned mode of Barbara Pym, is both truthful and deceptive. Relationships of love and friendship with deep roots in the past are thoughtfully examined, but the occasion is a drastic severing, placed on such an early page as to be exempt from any embargo on the revelation of plot. Zachary Samuels, who runs his own London art gallery, collapses at work and is suddenly dead. His wife, Lydia, both spiky and dependent in temperament, is bereft in the most obvious, even primal way, but the blast damage spreads outward. Christine, the central figure of the novel and Lydia’s closest friend since their schooldays, thinks: ‘Without Zachary, our lives are thrown into disorder. Of all of us, he’s the one we couldn’t afford to lose.’ There’s poignance in that tangled first-person plural, stricken of its power to bind a group.

(LRB 15 August 2019)

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