“Clever Girl” is the fictional memoir Stella, a girl born in the UK in 1956, growing up in a one bedroom flat with a mother who conceals the fact that her father ran off shortly after she was born by creating his ficitional death. Set against the backdrop of great social changes in the sixties and seventies, “Clever Girl” has Stella getting caught up in the changing values of the time. Honestly, Tessa Hadley has such a wonderful way with words and paints such a lovely, intimate portrait of Stella, that I was three-quarters of the way through the book when I began to wonder, “Ok, where are we going with this?” The book meanders to a somewhat anticlimactic stop and left me wondering what, exactly, the point was?
However, even though the ending was too soft for my taste, the writing is exceptional. The characters all but step off the page and Stella’s struggles as a first the child of a single mom and then a single mom herself are touching and entertaining. At its core, I believe that “Clever Girl” is a true “coming of age” story…the story of a woman coming to an age where she can confront all the disparate parts of herself and her history and embrace who she truly is.
“Clever Girl” is from Harper and is scheduled for release on March 14, 2014. This is bound to be a favorite with readers who love the English Language and are looking for quiet, character-study type stories. This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own!