Tessa Hadley Master Bedroom

ISBN 13: 9780099499268

Master Bedroom

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9780099499268: Master Bedroom

Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction Kate Flynn has always been a clever girl, brought up to believe in herself as something special. Now Kate is forty-three and has given up her university career in London to come home and look after her mother at Firenze, their big house by a lake in Cardiff. When Kate meets David Roberts, a friend from the old days, she begins to obsess about him: she knows it's because she's bored and hasn't got anything else to do, but she can't stop. Adapting to a new way of life, the connections Kate forges in her new home are to have painful consequences, as the past begins to cast its long shadow over the present...

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About the Author:

Tessa Hadley is the author of six highly praised novels, Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Everything Will Be All Right, The Master Bedroom, The London Train, Clever Girl and The Past, and two collections of stories, Sunstroke and Married Love. The Past won the Hawthornden Prize for 2016. She lives in London and is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in the New Yorker and other magazines.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One It was not a sign. Kate refused to let it be a sign. She hated driving anyway. As soon as she got home she was going to sell the car, but of course she had needed it to move all her stuff from London. The backseat was piled with boxes of books and holdalls stuffed with that miscellany of her possessions which it had seemed impossible to leave behind, so high she couldn't even see out of her rearview mirror. She always expected when she was driving to die at any moment, and braked and changed lanes with desperate recklessness as if she were gambling, but actually what happened not long after the Brynglas tunnel coming out of Newport wasn't her fault. No one was going very fast. She had meant to time her journey to miss the rush hour, but the minutes and hours of her morning, taken up with returning keys and dropping off graded exams at the university, had drifted off evasively as usual. Her life would never fit inside the lucid shapes she planned for it. So here she was in the middle lane in a queue coming out of Newport in dreary winter dusk and rain, shrunken among towering lorries whose wheels fumed with wet, gripping the steering wheel with both hands, longing to smoke but not daring to fumble a cigarette out of her pack on the dashboard. The cat in his basket, strapped into the passenger seat beside her, slunk round in circles with his fur flattened, expressing precisely the mingled unease and ennui that she felt. Then in the dim light something fell from the sky; at first Kate thought it was a bundle of dirty washing wrapped in a sheet. Even as she took in the catastrophe, the thing bounced against the side of a big container lorry in the slow lane and turned out not to be a bundle that might fly harmlessly apart but a mass flung back by its own weight into the path of a red car ahead of Kate. Which must swerve; what else could it do? The gray formlessness bounced onto the red car's bonnet and then clung blinding across its windscreen, carried forward as the car slewed into the path of the faster traffic in the outside lane; it threw out one long wing, dazzling white feathers ranged in rows of perfect symmetry, lit up by headlights. Then the mess was thrown free onto the road and swallowed up in the advancing chaos. The red car was hit side-on in the fast lane and went spinning into the center divider. Cars waltzed to a halt, finding whatever space was available. The actual moments of disaster were surprisingly reflective: Kate drove decorously and without fuss into the rear end of a white van; her little Citroën skidded around in a half circle and stopped at a right angle across the road. Something hit her then and shoved her forward another few yards. She wasn't hurt; she didn't think she was even jolted. How melodramatic, she thought. What a welcome home. Only the cat wailed an indignant protest. It was an irony and not a sign. Astonishingly, no one seemed to be hurt. The woman in the red car climbed out of the driver's seat and walked around it, examining the damage. The others moved their vehicles onto the hard shoulder if they could and waited for the police: Kate's Citroën was badly dented in two places but it started without difficulty. It was unbearable, though, to sit waiting inside it; Kate left Sim and joined in the improbable sober camaraderie sharing someone's umbrella. It must have been a swan, everyone thought, brought down by power lines. No one could tell for sure if it was dead already when it hit the first lorry. Or was it only a goose? A swan, confirmed someone who thought they had seen its long neck outstretched. Kate looked where they pointed; the swan was indistinguishable now from the oily dark wet of the road except in its bulk, like a sodden mattress. The woman from the red car--who had taken on a certain poetic importance, as if the bird had chosen her and she had escaped it--came and stood among them: a blonde in a white mac that was soon dark with rain. People asked if she was all right and she nodded angrily, staring into the distance as if she was holding back tears and wanted to be left alone. Someone lent her a mobile and she made a call. Then Kate recognized her as a woman she vaguely knew. She couldn't remember her name; she was married to David Roberts, Carol's younger brother. Carol was Kate's best--or, at any rate, her oldest--friend. Kate had met this woman once or twice a few years ago at Carol's and had thought her a nobody: conventional, a primary-school teacher. Now--probably it was the aftershock of the accident and the romance of all their survival distorting her judgment--she thought she could see what might be attractive in the rather rawboned face and big vulnerable mouth: fiercely shy, as though she might bite if you tried to be kind. You could find that farouche thing sexually interesting, at least for a time. She wasn't the sort of woman who liked Kate, anyway; she would surely take offense at anything she considered intellectual talk. Kate pretended not to know her, thinking she'd probably prefer it. Certainly Kate would. kate's mother, billie, still lived in cardiff in the same house she had been born in. Kate was born there too; like Billie, in the big master bedroom nobody slept in anymore. Billie's father, Sam Lebowicz, who had owned a chain of haberdashery shops in the Welsh valleys, bought the house when he married in 1910; his wife called it Firenze, because Italy was where they had their honeymoon. It overlooked a boating lake that was the culmination of a long narrow park running up out of the city proper; from the park across the lake you looked into a vista of misty blue and purple hills as if you were at the edge of civilization, although in fact you could walk round the lake in twenty minutes and the city these days stretched several miles beyond it. Firenze was a gloomy red-brick villa built on a rise beside the lake, with a precipitous front garden whose path wound up in zigzags through a gigantic rockery from the road; there was easier access from a side street. It had a round turret and a long enclosed first-floor veranda, in belated imitation of more lovely pre-Raphaelite fantasies in the city center. At the back of Firenze there had once been a broad lawn and shrubberies and beyond those a little wilderness where Kate had had her swing, but Billie had sold off most of this land in the seventies and eighties to developers, and the back windows now overlooked a block of flats and the end house of a small private development. Kate had let her London flat and given up her job (or at least taken a year's unpaid leave); she was coming home to look after her mother, who was eighty-three and growing forgetful. Anyway, she was bored with teaching in London; she was ready for a change; she didn't want to grow old doing the same thing over and over. She drove in at the graveled side entrance, turned off the engine, and sat in the silence, letting the howl and roar of the crazy motorway drain away, thinking that at least she would never ever have to drive again. The dents in the Citroën didn't matter; she would just give it away. Expecting Billie to come hurrying down to welcome her, she waited in the car with the door open, smoking the cigarette she had been craving; an intimately known suburban peace sifted down on her through the dark. The falling rain was blotted up overhead by the tall monkey puzzle tree or pattered onto the evergreen bushes. Below, on the lake, an invisible duck blundered splashily. A cold perfume of pines and bitter garden mulch seemed to her like the smell of the past itself. She unfastened the door to Sim's basket and let him come out to claw on her lap and make question marks against her face with his tail. He knew where he was; Kate had always brought him when she came home for weekends. She had only got the car in the first place because it was too complicated to take Sim on the train. Billie didn't come down. When she had finished her cigarette, Kate tucked the cat under her arm and climbed the steps to the front door, which jutted from the side of the house in a long porch with stained-glass windows where once they had grown houseplants. She didn't need her key; the door was slightly open, although everything was dark inside. She went through into the hall and put on the light. The hall was wood-paneled and baronial, and the one weak lightbulb was screwed into a monstrous bronze fitting like an upside-down cauldron with sockets for four, suspended ever since Kate could remember by chains from the ceiling. --Billie, Kate called, where are you? I've come home! I'm home to stay! She kept Sim under her arm as she looked in all the dark rooms, though he meowed and struggled to go down, kicking his strong back legs. He was a pure black cat with a small hard head that seemed to stand for the particular density of his cat will. --Mummy? Where are you? Hanging on to Sim, she climbed up the wide paneled staircase that rose at the back of the hall and was always lit in patches of color by a streetlamp shining through the tall stained-glass window on the landing; girls balancing water jugs gracefully on their shoulders gossiped around an ancient shaduf. Billie had taken recently to sleeping in a different bedroom every night, although she never slept now in the big front one, and she swore that she didn't sleep in Kate's. Kate put on the landing light and found her in a little room at the back where they used to store the spare chairs that Billie put out downstairs when she gave one of her concerts. The bed was made up correctly with striped sheets and a pillowcase and blankets, but Billie lay on top under one of the ancient dirty silk eiderdowns they hadn't used for years. She was sleeping absolutely tranquilly, not as if she had paused for an afternoon nap but as i...

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction Kate Flynn has always been a clever girl, brought up to believe in herself as something special. Now Kate is forty-three and has given up her university career in London to come home and look after her mother at Firenze, their big house by a lake in Cardiff. When Kate meets David Roberts, a friend from the old days, she begins to obsess about him: she knows it s because she s bored and hasn t got anything else to do, but she can t stop. Adapting to a new way of life, the connections Kate forges in her new home are to have painful consequences, as the past begins to cast its long shadow over the present. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099499268

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction Kate Flynn has always been a clever girl, brought up to believe in herself as something special. Now Kate is forty-three and has given up her university career in London to come home and look after her mother at Firenze, their big house by a lake in Cardiff. When Kate meets David Roberts, a friend from the old days, she begins to obsess about him: she knows it s because she s bored and hasn t got anything else to do, but she can t stop. Adapting to a new way of life, the connections Kate forges in her new home are to have painful consequences, as the past begins to cast its long shadow over the present. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099499268

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