Everything Will Be All Right
By Tessa Hadley
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805070651, 320pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2003
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The profoundly different choices of a mother and her daughter infuse this rich, expansive novel with both intimate detail and wide resonance
When Joyce Stevenson is thirteen, her family moves to the south of England to live with their aunt Vera. Joyce's mother, Lil, is a widow; Vera has a husband who keeps his suits in the wardrobe but spends evenings at another house nearby. While the two sisters couldn't be more different-Vera, a teacher, has unquestioning belief in the powers of education and reason; Lil puts her faith in séances-they work together to form a tight-knit family.
Joyce sees that there is something missing in their lives: men. She doesn't want to end up like her aunt Vera, rejected by her husband. Joyce discovers art at school: she falls in love with the Impressionists and, eventually, with one of her teachers. In spite of the temptations of the sixties, she is determined to make her marriage and motherhood a success. When Joyce's daughter, Zoe, grows up and has a baby of her own, however, she proves to be impatient with domestic life and chooses a dramatically different path.
Spanning five decades of extraordinary changes in women's lives, Everything Will Be All Right explores the complicated relationships of a family. The young ones of each generation are sure that they can correct the mistakes of their parents; the truth, of course, is more opaque. Intricate and insightful, Everything Will Be All Right firmly establishes Tessa Hadley among the great contemporary observers of the human mind and heart.
Tessa Hadley teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University College. Her first novel, Accidents in the Home, which was excerpted in The New Yorker, was longlisted for The Guardian's First Book Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales.