By Tessa Hadley
Just in case you haven’t heard, Tessa Hadley is a pretty fabulous writer and one that I continue to fall for the more I read. She can not only make a story better just by being involved in the crafting of it, but she is capable of communicating it to you, vividly, holding you at each point, involving you without overwhelming you with unnecessary and unsophisticated ploys to trap the reader – like sentimentality or forcing you to sympathise with the characters. She just tells it how it is.
I picked up Clever Girl a couple of weeks ago and I intentionally avoided gobbling it down. I wished to savour it and I’m glad I did, for this novel was always with me, and I could reflect on it whilst doing other things. I didn’t need to be reading it, to be enjoying it.
You follow Stella throughout, from when she’s small – when she thinks and sees and acts like any 10 year old – to when she’s older, experienced and softened. For me it felt like you ended up with several stories in the big story, connected by the same the voice, but initially a younger voice which brilliantly evolves as she grows and learns through life.
Additionally, I found my relationship with Stella (yes, you’ll find it too), one where she was happy to share, unthreatened by my possible judgement.
The style is refreshing, frank and original. It’s not often that a character or person will do things and tell you things, which don’t hold them in the rosiest of lights, for fear of causing offence, or receiving in return a big serving of disapproval, but this doesn’t seem to bother Stella. She’s truthful, real and a modern day heroine.
Go find a copy, take on the pleasure of reading a cleverly constructed tale and see the world through Stella’s eyes.
(Imaged sourced at google images)