Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Tessa Hadley's "Silk Brocades" was originally published in the July 27, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.

July 27, 2015Tessa Hadley, for me, is worthy of her frequent stories in The New Yorker. I love her work. Since I started posting on the magazine’s fiction, she has published thirteen pieces of fiction, and I’m a pretty big fan of each one, though I usually feel they lose a bit at the tail end. Notwithstanding, I find them rich and interesting and insightful. I hope a lot from this one as well!

I’m interested in your thoughts, so please start and join in the conversation below.

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By | 2015-07-20T11:54:09+00:00 July 20th, 2015|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Tessa Hadley|Tags: |15 Comments


  1. Adrienne July 21, 2015 at 1:52 am

    Sharing below the line again this week – WOW! I read this in the van and in between mall-shopping in the big city with my 16-year-old today. I hate shopping and I hate reading in the car. It is very late tonight – I will read this again for sure – but not tonight.

    My initial impression? WOW.


    It was well-written, satisfying, creative, clever, strong, witty, honest, direct, masterful and with a twist, too!

    It is about time, huh?

    Hopefully life will settle into another type of summer normalcy after today and I can delve into these tales the way I want – especially stories the caliber of this.


  2. Ragmar July 27, 2015 at 11:26 am

    As a writer, I was taken by the sudden and unexpected switch in time, and the realization that what the reader had assumed to be “contemporary” to the characters was in fact past: “That was in 1953.” Here we are in the company of a new generation, and learn of the developments that brought them to the old estate.

    I beautiful phrase I highlighted to add to my treasury, was the downward view from the tree branches of the paths below: “… the bluebells were like pools of water among the trees, reflecting the sky.”

  3. Adrienne July 30, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I just purchased two collections of short stories by Tessa Hadley because of this story. I am reading the collection “Married Love” first… there is something about her writing that is reminds me of Carver and Chekhov… I want to curl under a tree on a sun-spilling day and just read her stories…

  4. Trevor Berrett July 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    That’s great, Adrienne. I think a few of the stories in Married Love are covered here, so look at the index under Hadley and let us know your thoughts when you finish a story we’ve talked about (or haven’t talked about, of course!).

  5. Trevor Berrett July 30, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    I’m really surprised, by the way, that Hadley isn’t better known and critically appreciated. I think her work is exceptional, and I think The New Yorker does too, since I think she’s had more work published there in the last five years than any other author. Somehow that doesn’t seem to spill over to massive coverage of her books when they’re published.

    Glad you’ve found her, though, Adrienne!

  6. Trevor Berrett July 30, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Last thought: though I believe Clever Girl came to the U.S. only in paperback, I believe her new novel, The Past, is coming in hardback next January.

  7. Marsha August 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    I always find Tess Hadley’s stories an absolute pleasure to read. And Silk Brocade was no exception. Aside from her beautiful sentences (and, I loved the one that Ragmar called out), I enjoyed the (abrupt) time switch in the final paragraphs of the story. Isn’t it often true that what was once important is just a throwaway to a later generation? The brocade was so important, so special to the two women in that post-war period but by contemporary times, it was just an old jacket. Priceless.

  8. Adrienne August 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Loving “Married Love”… I’m reviewing it for my local paper so when I gather my thoughts I will definitely share them… Heehee – I even received a thank you note from Tessa Hadley herself for my review of “Silk Brocade”… (I contacted her, of course – I’m not THAT visible yet!)

  9. Adrienne September 14, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I just finished “Married Love and Other Stories” and I cannot get enough of Tessa Hadley! I love her sentences, her women, and her story organization.

    I did some research and discovered that she became a published author later life, having spent time with her growing family as her first priority. That maturity that comes from growing “up” and motherhood is a definite factor in her beautiful work.

  10. Ken November 9, 2015 at 6:12 am

    I agree–She’s consistently rewarding. I thought this was exceptionally good and the switch in time added a lot and was not a gimmick as it could’ve been in lesser hands. This has so much to offer–analysis of class, depiction of friendship and parenthood, meditation on sexual attraction etc.

  11. Patricia May 22, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Okay, v. late to the party here, having just found this site and being backed up in my TNY reading. I quite enjoyed this story, more almost in the ruminating on it than in the reading. Hadley is ballerina-like in her ability to make what could be difficult or boggy descriptions seem effortless. Her nuanced depictions of everday feminine activities elevate them to almost poetic status ( à la Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg, and Alice Hoffman–masters I think of the minutiae of 20th Century women’s lives). I was completely drawn into Ann’s post-war world, jarred out of it with the daughter’s section (everything is different and everything stays the same), and knocked out of the entire bubble by dogs clamoring for dinner and a dark house, ignored while my mind struggled to accept the provenance of the brocade jacket. Sad that Nora’s death was a mere footnote to Sally; true that so much of life winds up like that. Need to read more of Hadley, for certain.

  12. Greg May 22, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks Patricia for sharing your joy of Hadley…..and please treat yourself this summer by reading her latest novel – “The Past”.

    You won’t be disappointed! It’s everything we need in our literature…..

  13. Patricia May 23, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Thanks for the recommendation, Greg. I just put it on my summer reading list.

    I’ve been so disappointed with a lot of TNY fare lately. I actually wrote about it in a pithy *snorts* comment about McEwan’s “My Purple Scented Novel,” but one slip of the keyboard and poof… gone. Tired of the too-cool-for-school affectations, the non-endings that make me think I’m at the dentist’s office, and surely someone has ripped the last page out of the magazine. I actually liked the McEwan story (and didn’t hate “Alan Bean Plus Four” or “A Death” either). I want a little arc, a little entertainment, craft that’s in support of SOMETHING. Hadley sure fits the bill there.

  14. Greg May 24, 2016 at 5:08 am

    I love your dentist office comparison Patricia!

    Also, you have a lot of courage to say on a serious literary site that essentially you are looking to be more entertained than “challenged”….

  15. Patricia May 24, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Thanks, Greg!

    Don’t get me wrong–I love to be challenged by literature but I want to be entertained to. I think the word “entertainment” has been given a bit of a bad name. I my mind, truly great literary fiction can challenge and entertain at the same time. I hate reading something purely because I feel like I should (it’s “important” etc.). A lot of TNY stuff feels like the emperors new clothes lately. I want something that sweeps me up emotionally or intellectually AND is beautifully written. Should I mention I’m on the final chapter of Cloud Atlas, so I’ve been horribly spoiled for everything that comes after?

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