As London comes alive with the 1960s youth revolution, one woman makes a choice that defies all expectations.
'So real and humane and utterly transporting' Meg Mason
It's 1967 and London is alive with the new youth revolution. In the suburbs, meanwhile, Phyllis Fischer inhabits a world of conventional stability. Married with two children, her life is both comfortable and predictable.
But when Nicky - a twenty-something friend of the family - visits one hot summer evening and kisses Phyllis in the dark of the garden, something in her catches fire. Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations . . .
'Wonderful' Marian Keyes
'My favourite author' Kate Atkinson
'Achingly moving and real' Guardian
'Beguiling' Hilary Mantel
'Compelling' Elizabeth Day
'Will bring you to tears' Daily Mail
The poignant, ironic latest from Hadley (Late in the Day) is drenched in the atmosphere of late-1960s Britain, when the lives of women seemed to be changing radically, but maybe, in fact, weren't so much. In 1967, Phyllis Fischer is 40 years old, "pleased with her life" as a housewife in suburban London, married to civil servant Roger, and mother to charming nine-year-old Hugh and discontented 15-year-old Colette. But, as the detached, observant narrator notes, "under the placid surface of suburbia, something was unhinged." Soon Phyllis is involved, to Colette's chagrin, in an affair with Nicholas, the 20-something son of family friends. What seems at first to be a simple tale of adultery and its consequences twists into something between a "cosmic comedy" (as Nicholas's mother calls it) and a "situation as fatally twisted as a Greek drama" (according to the narrator) as the affair reveals unexpected connections between Phyllis's family and Nicholas's. The narrator's wise, disaffected view of life homes in on the shakiness of Phyllis's sentimental education. In keen, lush prose, Hadley conveys the many ways her characters delude themselves amid fraught relationships between parents and children as well as between lovers. The result is sumptuous and surprising.