Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley [in Library Journal]
Emma Gregory, with her impressive range of Anglophone accents – differentiated by age, region, country – is the ideal conduit for the 10 nuanced, exquisite stories in Tessa Hadley’s (The Past) latest collection.
Loss of innocence looms large in many of the pieces, from a teenager’s first sexual experience in “An Abduction” and a woman’s discovery of her aging employer’s horrifying past in “The Stain” to a daughter witnessing her mother’s revealing exchange with a former neighbor in “One Saturday Morning.” Uncomfortable revelations (or their denial) plague characters in “Deeds Not Words,” about a young teacher having an affair with a married man; in “Experience,” in which a woman discovers an attic of secrets in an acquaintance’s home where she’s sought shelter when her marriage ends; in “Bad Dreams,” in which a mother and her young daughter have hugely different interpretations of a night’s events; and in “Flight,” about estranged, adult sisters who still can’t reconcile over their childhood home.
Hadley nimbly captures small everyday moments and, with masterly agility, shows them to be pivotal, course-changing, life-transforming events.
Verdict: Wise, stellar, accomplished, Hadley’s collection will appeal to literary aficionados who appreciate such luminous (short) storytellers as Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, and Jhumpa Lahiri.