Synopses & Reviews
Debut novel about contemporary relationships. A mother of three children meets someone she had a one-night stand with as a teenager, and this has a powerful impact. "This writer is a rare and startling gem" "Guardian".
Clare is married, with three small children, she bakes her own bread and buys her clothes from the charity shop. Her best friend Helly is a model and has her golden curves pasted up on billboards ten feet high. Each of them seems to want what the other has.
About the Author
Tessa Hadley teaches at Bath Spa University and lives in Cardiff.
Reading Group Guide
1. Clare is a young mother with a devoted husband and a comfortable home in the suburbs. Helly is single and leads a glamorous, metropolitan lifestyle. Both want what the other has. Do you think their desire for more will ever be satisfied?
2. Family in Tessa Hadley's novel is no longer a steady foundation but a complex web of divorces, half siblings and step children that expands connection and betrayal. How do you feel about this intimate portrait of contemporary family life? How does it compare to pre 1960 domestic novels? And your own experiences?
3. Each of the chapters are almost a short story in themselves. Each character is in full focus for only a matter of pages before receding into the background again. How do you feel about how the novel has been constructed? How does Hadley enhance our awareness of the context and make the novel work as a whole?
4. There is only one conventionally disastrous 'accident' in the book; why do you think the author chose the title she did? Discuss the power of chance and collision throughout the novel.
5. The novel has a domestic setting — do you think Tessa Hadley has succeeded in making 'serious literature' out of it?
6. Clare's father leaves a trail of marital dissatisfaction, divorce and children. How do you feel about the way men are portrayed in the novel?