Review: Clever Girl, Tessa Hadley

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*
Clever Girl, Tessa Hadley
One woman's life, from childhood to middle age.
Stella tells the story of her life, from her childhood as the daughter of a single mother in a Bristol bedsit in the 1960s into the mysterious shallows of her middle age. The story is full of drama -- violent deaths, an abrupt end to Stella's schooldays, two sons by different fathers who aren't around to see the boys grow up -- but as ever it is her observation of ordinary lives, of the way men and women think and feel and relate to one another, that dazzles.

Tessa Hadley is the author of Sunstroke and Other Stories, and the novels The Master Bedroom, Everything Will Be All Right, and Accidents in the Home. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, and teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University.

I was triggered by the synopsis. The story of Stella, growing up and having to deal with a lot of different situations. Specially the "full of drama" part of the synopsis triggered me.
I had a hard time getting into the story. The first part of the book tells the story of a child but the voice is changing. Sometimes it is a childs voice and choice of words other times it feels adult. I would have expected a more adult voice telling the story so this confused me a bit. It took me some time to find out exactly where in Stella's life we joined her.
Eventually the voice and time line fall into place and it is easier to connect to the situations. The thing that stood out most was the fact that all the drama was not dramatized. Stella felt a bit cold. All the things happening to her, and yes some where shocking, are told with a flat voice. Stella does not seem to have any emotion left in telling her life story. I waited the whole book for the bomb to drop, the drama to begin and than I arrived at the last page and it was over. In a way that is shocking enough but I had expected more.

Clever Girl
Author: Tessa Hadley
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 272
Format: eGalley
ISBN-10: 0062270397
ISBN-13: 9780062270399
Publisher: eBook | Hardcover
Clever Girl
3 stars

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17 March, 2014 delete

It's easier for a reader to have an emotional response to events that happens to a characters if he/she has one too, so I can see how this would fall flat for you. It's like telling a joke with a straight face :)

18 March, 2014 delete

Sorry to hear this fell flat!