Phyllis Fischer leaves her conservative husband to join the children of the revolution for all the transformational potential 1960's London offers. Empathetic and accurately evocative of the era while never judging its victors and casualties implicitly, it is both subtle and wise. Tessa Hadley's characters are fully alive in all their earnest flaws. While their paths resolve nicely, and the twist is seamless, it is the style of her writing that sets this novel in a class of it's own.
1967. While London comes alive with the new youth revolution, the suburban Fischer family seems to belong to an older world of conventional stability- pretty, dutiful homemaker Phyllis is married to Roger, a devoted father with a career in the Foreign Office. Their children are Colette, a bookish teenager, and Hugh, the golden boy.
But when the twenty-something son of an old friend pays the Fischers a visit one hot summer evening, and kisses Phyllis in the dark garden after dinner, something in her catches fire. Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations of her as a wife and a mother. Nothing in these ordinary lives is so ordinary after all, it turns out, as the family's upheaval mirrors the dramatic transformation of the society around them.
With scalpel-sharp insight, Tessa Hadley explores her characters' inner worlds, laying bare their fears and longings. Daring and sensual, Free Love is a compulsive, irresistible exploration of romantic love, sexual freedom and living out the truest and most meaningful version of our lives.
'She has such great psychological insights into human beings, which is rare. She is one of the best fiction writers writing today.' Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
'Tessa Hadley recruits admirers with each book. She writes with authority, and with delicacy- she explores nuance, but speaks plainly; she is one of those writers a reader trusts.' Hilary Mantel