Arts & Leisure

Book review: Free Love — by Tessa Hadley


Phyllis Fischer, who possessed an “expectant, animated prettiness,” and the atmosphere, a “pregnant warm light [that] seemed dense and suspenseful as amber,” make their entrances together in the first pages of this tender, easy novel, the setting drenched with the loveliness of a late summer evening in 1960s Britain. Phyllis is hosting a dinner in the suburban home she shares with her husband, Roger, and their two children, Colette and Hugh. The dinner guest, Nicky Knight, arrives over an hour late, in fact, he hadn’t wanted to come, and had stopped into a pub, nearly forgetting the old friends of his parents were waiting for him. The ensuing events of the evening, which begins as a most awkward social encounter, soon turns into the first, and perhaps most significant turning point of the book. The world is perched on a precipice of change, and Phyllis, with a moment of wild abandon that then becomes her fervent wish, steps boldly into it, not afraid to expose her naïveté, not afraid to leave the stultifying routines of her current life behind her with no regrets. What follows is a multi-layered, comical and heartfelt story of growing up, facing the consequences of the choices we make, and living without regret. 

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons. Connect with her on Instagram @jennysbookshop to find more great book reviews and recommendations. Look for these titles and more at your local bookstore.

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Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller

Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton

Joan Is Okay, by Weike Wang

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

Lucky, by Marissa Stapley

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