Tessa Hadley transports us to 1960s London in her latest novel, Free Love. It begins during a sultry summer in 1967, as the Fischer family await the arrival of a young dinner guest, Nicky. A simple evening becomes cataclysmic, an unexpected kiss between Phyllis (Mrs Fischer) and Nicky turns the family dynamic and their way of living on its head.
The juxtaposition between the leafy suburbs and the judgemental nature of outsiders and the laid-back revolution in London during the late 1960s is vividly portrayed in Free Love: it feels almost like an education in the era. We see events through many of the well-drawn characters’ eyes, including the Fischers’ children and other relatives, which enhances the atmosphere and offers an extra dimension.
A slightly slower than usual start draws you in with subtle nuances within the atmospheric language, and the twist is dealt with in a slowly revealing manner – one which caught me unawares but is a nod to the powerful prose the author possesses, and how well it is conveyed.
Having admired Tessa Hadley’s previous novels, Free Love did not disappoint. Despite elements of the narrative being predictable at times, overall, the settings, characters and plot twist provided the ideal combination for an enthralling read.
Free Love, Tessa Hadley (Vintage)
Price £16.99. Info: here
words RHIANON HOLLEY
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