Cover image for Everything will be all right : a novel
Everything will be all right : a novel
Hadley, Tessa.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, [2003]

Physical Description:
303 pages ; 25 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.3 19.0 124855.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The profoundly different choices of a mother and her daughter infuse this rich, expansive novel with both intimate detail and wide resonance

When Joyce Stevenson is thirteen, her family moves to the south of England to live with their aunt Vera. Joyce's mother, Lil, is a widow; Vera has a husband who keeps his suits in the wardrobe but spends evenings at another house nearby. While the two sisters couldn't be more different-Vera, a teacher, has unquestioning belief in the powers of education and reason; Lil puts her faith in séances-they work together to form a tight-knit family.

Joyce sees that there is something missing in their lives: men. She doesn't want to end up like her aunt Vera, rejected by her husband. Joyce discovers art at school: she falls in love with the Impressionists and, eventually, with one of her teachers. In spite of the temptations of the sixties, she is determined to make her marriage and motherhood a success. When Joyce's daughter, Zoe, grows up and has a baby of her own, however, she proves to be impatient with domestic life and chooses a dramatically different path.

Spanning five decades of extraordinary changes in women's lives, Everything Will Be All Right explores the complicated relationships of a family. The young ones of each generation are sure that they can correct the mistakes of their parents; the truth, of course, is more opaque. Intricate and insightful, Everything Will Be All Right firmly establishes Tessa Hadley among the great contemporary observers of the human mind and heart.

Author Notes

Tessa Hadley teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University College in Cardiff, Wales.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Hadley's insightful follow-up to her highly touted debut, Accidents in the Home (2002), explores the many facets of womanhood as seen through the eyes of four generations of one English family. The narrative centers on Joyce, whose father was killed at Dunkirk, a sensitive child who studies the females around her, gradually building an image of the woman she wishes to become. Through Joyce's adolescence, sexual awakening, motherhood, and middle age, Hadley paints a picture of unfulfilled high expectations as Joyce laments that her life has become keeping everything looking nice, worrying about everyone else. Joyce's daughter proceeds quickly from Cambridge to motherhood but never loses sight of her professional goals. An acclaimed author, she somehow never connects with her own daughter, finally sending her to live with the girl's father, a self-centered intellectual dismayed by her lack of a second language and how her English is tainted with the cultish slang of the American teens. A perceptive perusal of the timeless choices faced by each generation by a marvelously gifted writer. --Deborah Donovan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this complex, intelligent family epic, Hadley (Accidents in the Home) chronicles the lives of three generations of English women over four decades of social and political change. After her father is killed in WWII, 11-year-old Joyce and her mother, sister and brother go to live with Joyce's stern schoolteacher aunt and her aunt's family. Escaping from this cozy menagerie when she goes away to art college, Joyce, by now a striking, warmhearted redhead ("Men liked Joyce"), falls in love with her married professor, an intense painter who leaves his wife for her. Joyce adapts well to married life (like Mrs. Dalloway, she throws elaborate parties), but her marriage is less conventional than it seems. Her daughter Zoe, quieter and more self-contained, does well at school and goes away to Cambridge, where she studies history and embarks on a tormented relationship with clever, rigid Simon ("you know he never touched me-I mean, literally, even with his hand-except when he wanted to make love to me"). Against Simon's wishes, Zoe has his baby, but shortly after Pearl's birth Zoe leaves him, making a life for herself as a successful conflict expert and academic. Pearl, Zoe's rebellious daughter, has Joyce's red hair but is defiantly herself, reveling in disorder and roving with gangs of friends. The novel itself is an unruly domestic tangle of family members, lovers and friends, crowded and intimate. Cutting abruptly across decades and then zeroing in on a few months or years in the life of its endearingly human protagonists, it expertly captures the texture of daily existence and the struggle of three memorable women to make their way in the world. (Oct.) Forecast: Fans of Margaret Drabble and the Doris Lessing of The Sweetest Dream are the target readership for this thoughtful, analytical domestic novel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When Joyce's father is killed fighting in World War II, the Stevenson family moves from Wales to southern England, into a house with Aunt Vera and Uncle Dick. The resultant clash of cultures-working class meets middle class-is as instructive as Joyce's formal schooling. So are lessons about relationships; as Joyce scrutinizes the adults in her orbit, she discovers that Uncle Dick is a womanizing cad who treats his wife disdainfully. The lesson stays with her, and, determined not to repeat the mistakes of her foremothers, she enrolls in art school. There, she falls in love with instructor Ray Deare. Two children, daughter Zoe and son Daniel, are born as Joyce tries to fold 1960s sensibilities into a traditional marriage. As the novel progresses, we follow Zoe as she becomes a single mother and nuclear disarmament expert. We also meet her child, Pearl, and watch her develop. Sprawling and poignant, Hadley's second novel (her first, Accidents at Home, was considered for the Guardian's First Book Award) captures the social, psychological, and political factors that lead each generation to differentiate itself from the preceding. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Hadley's domestic novel introduces readers to several generations of women, each one at work to gain independence, sort through personal chaos, and watch the succeeding children mature. The setting is England from the end of World War II through the present; great-aunt Vera and her sister Lil, grandmother Joyce, mother Zoe, and teenage Pearl each gets a whirl at center stage. The robust details of their lives offer a sensual understanding not only of each woman's immediate world, but also of the changes she experiences as she matures. Like Marianne Fredriksson's Hannah's Daughters (Ballantine, 1998), this multigenerational story has strong characters that are easy to differentiate. They invite readers to ally their sympathies with specific women among the cast, making this an easy entr?e for book-discussion groups. The male characters are more than simply foils for the women; they, too, offer a spectrum of approaches to life and self-realization. Overall, there's much here to appeal to those who are more interested in social insight than romance.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From Everything Will Be All Rightt : Zoe studied her face with concentration in the mirror. She was forty-three. There must have been changes over the past couple of years, only she hadn't had time to take them in until today: a leaching of color from her skin and hair, perhaps; a loss of resilience, so that the little lines didn't spring back when she stopped grimacing. She worried now, when it was presumably too late, that she had never used anti-wrinkle cream or taken vitamins. Joyce spent at least half an hour in front of her mirror every day, "getting ready." Zoe truly didn't know what you were supposed to do in that time; the full extent of her beauty regime involved washing her face and running a comb through her hair. She had thought she was too intelligent to worry over the usual women's trivia. Now she wondered if she hadn't simply taken youth and freshness carelessly for granted; and she was suddenly swamped in a bewildered vanity. Excerpted from Everything Will Be All Right by Tessa Hadley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.