Hadley, one of the greatest novelists and short-story writers at work today, gives us her fourth collection of stories. Some of these tales have appeared in the New Yorker, and a few are more vignettes than they are stories, but every one of them hits home. Richly detailed and economically presented, the stories lay out small events and circumstances in the lives of ordinary people, mostly women. Accumulating, the details flow together into chilly, unwelcome revelations of the past’s meaning or the reality of the present situation. In the title piece, after their father’s funeral, two little girls discover, over the years, that he and, in time, their mother and even the older girl have different, less-admirable characters than they had assumed. As in all but a couple of the stories, nothing is spelled out, but when it comes, understanding is as clear and cold as an icicle. Abigail Thaw delivers the stories beautifully, her manner and intonation picking up each character’s personality — snobbish, arrogant, beset upon or naive. Most impressive, she gets across the stories’ many ironies with an evenness of tone that makes them all the more devastating. (Random House Audio, Unabridged, 6½ hours)
Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for The Washington Post.
POST AUTHOR: Katherine A. Powers