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The Master Bedroom: A Novel Hardcover – July 24, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805080767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080766
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This dreamy and thoughtful third novel from Hadley (Everything Will Be Alright and Accidents in the Home) chronicles the slow-burning midlife crisis of Kate Flynn. A cigarette-smoking, high-heel–wearing Russian lit. prof, Kate has given up frittering among the London intelligentsia to move back to Wales and care for her aging mother, Billie. Against the backdrop of wintry Cardiff, Kate contends with her rekindled desire for David Roberts, now a married public health doctor. She simultaneously attempts to ward off the infatuated advances of David's teenage son, Jamie. As all concerned cavort provokingly, Hadley sympathizes with her quirky, stubborn characters and impulsive protagonist without excusing them, and the simmering love triangle between David, his son and Kate keeps the placid storytelling from falling into a meditative lull. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Dissipated and dreary, much like her family's ancestral estate in the Welsh countryside, Kate Flynn's life has slumped dangerously out of control. After jettisoning her once-promising academic career and intoxicating London lifestyle to return to Cardiff to care for her senile mother, Kate despairs of her self-imposed exile until a chance encounter with the brother of a childhood friend promises a glimmer of hope. For his part, David, too, suffers from a pervasive malaise: his first wife committed suicide; his second marriage is disintegrating; and his teenage son, Jamie, is growing increasingly secretive and distant. Introduced to Kate as someone who could tell him about the mother he never knew, Jamie is immediately attracted to Kate's sophisticated ways and soon insinuates himself into her bohemian home, where he unwittingly joins his father as a rival for her affections. Melancholy and starkly emotive, Hadley's enervating tale evokes the raw drama that lies at the emotional nexus between friends and lovers, husbands and wives, parents and children. Haggas, Carol
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Tessa Hadley is the author of four highly praised novels: Accidents in the Home, which was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award; Everything Will Be All Right; The Master Bedroom; and The London Train, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of two short-story collections, Sunstroke and Married Love, both of which were New York Times Notable Books as well. Her stories appear regularly in the New Yorker. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

The writing is exquisite.
Tom O'Leary
As the story progressed however, I began to realize the plot was flat and boring, the characters and their actions predictable, and the ending left me shaking my head.
K. Larsen
I don't know whether I liked this book or not, but I CAN say that it took me longer to finish it than it takes me to read three or four books of the same length.
Wendy Kaplan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hadley has a knack for the unreliable narrator. The truth of a character's life stays hidden even from the character, and yet the paradox is that it makes the character very naked. Although the title is steamy and probably will tease readers of mainstream cant--(writers like Jodi Pocault who write with cliches and cardboard characters), this is a richly textured novel not meant for folks who don't appreciate literature. If you like archetypes and soap-opera level writing, this isn't for you. If you like Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch, you might enjoy this book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After more than two decades in London's academic circle, Russian Literature professor Kate Flynn returns to her hometown of Cardiff, Wales to care for her aging mother, Billie. However, without her career or her literary friends, Kate feels somewhat out of place at home. When she meets childhood friend Dr. David Roberts at a concert, Kate is interested as she was attracted to him as a teen and apparently still is.

However, David is married to Suzie, whose recent behavior of vanishing for days and ignoring their children and him when she is home worries the family. He finds temporary sanctuary with Kate. David's seventeen-year-old son Jamie also finds comfort with Kate; as her artsy eccentricity makes her seem so much younger than his parents. As the two Roberts court Kate in their differing peculiar ways, she tries to keep the triangle from imploding.

This is an interesting romantic triangle starring three fully developed protagonists. Kate is the prime focus of the story line of a woman in a middle age crisis dealing with an older mom and no vocation to keep her mind from wandering. Adding to her being the star is obviously the two males who desire her while she wants the older one without harming the younger one. Fans of deep character studies will appreciate Tessa Hadley discerning look at a woman at the crossroads of her life.

Harriet Klausner
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I don't know whether I liked this book or not, but I CAN say that it took me longer to finish it than it takes me to read three or four books of the same length. Its soporific nature, its sloooooooooow story, its strangely annoying main character all combined to make me fall asleep (literally) after only a page or two.

OK, we have Kate, maybe a latter-day intellectual hippie, who grew up in a half intellectual strangely confusing house of Jewish parents whose families (at least one) escaped the Holocaust. I think. It really has no bearing whatsoever on the plot, but is mentioned more than once. Said intellectual hippie/beauty/violinist/professor/reviewer (all of the above? none of the above?) Kate comes to nurse her failing mother in her last days. But she is mean to her mother, always has been, but she adores her and nurses her well. I get tired just writing this down.

Kate is having a midlife crisis and destroys several men in her wake, inexcuseable, self-indulgent, and mean all the while.

End of topic. This is NOT chick lit, as somebody labeled it. It's more just a jumble of finely written but incomphrehensible mishmash--I think meant to be very meaningful, but I just didn't get it. Oh. And it takes place in Wales, which is neither here nor there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This gloomy novel set in rainy, cold Wales is a scarcely satisfactory attempt to shed light on the major change that Russian literature professor Kate Flynn is making in her life by abandoning a successful London university career and returning to her large, crumbling childhood estate in Cardiff, Wales to, in theory, care for her 80-something mother Billie, suffering from dementia.

Despite a certain awkwardness in style - for example, using dashes in lieu of quotations - requiring constant rereading, the author turns a keen eye towards the surroundings, the culture, and people, in general. But, her characters are puzzling, not altogether understandable.

The discontents of the unmarried diminutive, attractive Kate are never made clear, but she has always had a healthy interest in the opposite sex. She begins a uncertain relationship with David Roberts, a childhood friend and public health physician, who is having marital woes - his wife Suzie is spending a great deal of time with a counter-culture group. Most improbable is her involvement with Jamie, David's 17-year-old son, after a chance meeting in a café, especially given his reclusiveness and lethargy. It is a relationship that is secretive, tentative, and sexual.

Despite the proximity of these individuals there are few interactions and consequently there are no conflict-fueled developments and only minimal clarifications ensue. It is strange that the teenage Jamie takes far more initiative than the other two, who are strangely hesitant, indecisive, at every turn. The gloom of the Wales setting: the rain, the darkness, the mud, furnaces not working, etc, seems to have a dulling impact on the entire book. The initial possibilities for this book are not well realized. The characters finally wander off the stage, leaving minimal imprints.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AnandaK on February 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tessa Hadley became familiar to me from her short stories in The New Yorker. This is the second novel I've read by her, and I found it engrossing. Hadley doesn't baby her heroine, who is portrayed as a sharp-edged but vulnerable single woman who comes "home" to assist her aging mother. The mother seems to be sliding into dementia or Alzheimer's. The heroine, Kate, may seem generous and compassionate, but her relationship with her mother, as with her friends, is sometimes acerbic and irritable. She develops a kind of crush on the married brother of one of her longtime friends. The brother, whose marriage is troubled, has a teenage son who develops a crush on Kate. Things become complicated in the way that real life sometimes can become. People make bad decisions, and these decisions will color their futures. We almost want to shout out to them, "No! Don't!"

Hadley doesn't wrap everything up neatly and compactly as so many authors must be tempted to do. Instead we are given a readable map of everyday lives and emotions, and, even if we are not given all the answers for these characters, we can infer the consequences.
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