The Past

The Past

A Novel

Book - 2016
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Assembling at their Somerset country house one final time before it is sold, four siblings and their children share past memories, hidden passions, and devastating secrets that threaten to overwhelm them.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2016]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9780062270412
Branch Call Number: FIC HADL
Characteristics: 311 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

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Feb 26, 2018

I enjoyed her prose -- sometimes her sentences were so descriptive, they stopped me in my tracks! But since I prefer more plot and pace, the book dragged along too slowly for me.

Jul 15, 2017

Four siblings spend their summer holiday at their grandparents’ isolated English country estate—an old vicarage—with assorted children, a new wife and a young man, son of an old boyfriend in tow.

Seen from varying points of view, old and new rivalries and passions, bubble into view. Sometimes messy, sometimes endearing. Prose like a reverie, but a little low on plot. Secrets were a little predictable to me

Nov 26, 2016

Loved this book. Can't believe I've never read anything by her. So like family life - messy, awkward, rich, and so evocative of a disappearing kind of life. The encroachment of foreigners into private, bourgeois British life does a contrapuntal dance with the activism of both the 60's of Tom and Jill and the, what, 80's? of Harriet. And history seems to be variations on a theme where the relationships of Hettie and Roly, and Ivy and Arthur are concerned. And is Mikey Fran's father?
I loved the descriptions of the English countryside and weather, particularly those from Harriet's point of view.

Jun 14, 2016

enjoyed the book

Jun 02, 2016

Masterful narrative arc. I loved the unexpected plot twists... Harriet's sudden, illogical, crushing crush on Pilar, The childrens' superstitious ritual play, and most of all, the puff of dust that hangs in the air around the derelict cabin at the end. I believed in these characters.

May 05, 2016

This utterly English novel probes family dynamics with beautiful prose, but the author's chilly remove from her characters (even more than the lack of momentum) kept me from being truly swept up. Attentive readers will see parallels the characters miss, especially once the 2nd section shows us the previous generation, and we realize how fully the Cranes of the present are re-living their parents' mistakes.

Tessa Hadley's book is an elegy for the English gentry--rural, middle-class, Anglican liberals who are disappearing along with the farmers they once lorded over--but as a USian I found it hard to relate. Eldest sister Harriet's story follows too closely the clichés straight literary writers usually use for lesbian characters, and minor characters like Fran and Molly are underdeveloped to the point of blankness. That said, the plot picks up toward the end before concluding with a moment powerfully quiet and sad, and many people, unlike me, will probably love the book.

Apr 10, 2016

Although I sometimes find Hadley's work on the edge between insightful and banal, I liked this story of a bourgeois and literate family and what lies below the surface of their lifes. I also liked the structure of the novel - the present, the past, the present and found it added depth and understanding to each of the characters. Recommended.

karcoldelharvic5 Mar 14, 2016

One word---boring. Too much time spent on descriptions and persons thoughts. The - before there was a conversation instead of quotation marks was annoying. The middle of the book goes back into the past with no rhyme or reason why. Truly disappointing if you read all the comments and the book description.


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