#BookReview Free Love by Tessa Hadley @randomhouseca #FreeLove #TessaHadley #RandomHouseCanada Title: Free Love

Author: Tessa Hadley

Published by: Random House Canada on Feb. 1, 2022

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 328

Format: Paperback

Source: Random House Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

A compulsive new novel about one woman’s sexual and intellectual awakening in 1960s London.

1967. While London comes alive with the new youth revolution, the suburban Fischer family seems to belong to an older world of conventional stability: pretty, dutiful homemaker Phyllis is married to Roger, a devoted father with a career in the Foreign Office. Their children are Colette, a bookish teenager, and Hugh, the golden boy.

But when the twenty-something son of an old friend pays the Fischers a visit one hot summer evening, and kisses Phyllis in the dark garden after dinner, something in her catches fire. Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations of her as a wife and a mother. Nothing in these ordinary lives is so ordinary after all, it turns out, as the family’s upheaval mirrors the dramatic transformation of the society around them.

With scalpel-sharp insight, Tessa Hadley explores her characters’ inner worlds, laying bare their fears and longings. Daring and sensual, Free Love is an enthralling, irresistible exploration of romantic love, sexual freedom and living out the truest and most meaningful version of our lives.


Sophisticated, astute, and passionate!

Free Love is an intimate, sentimental tale that sweeps you away to London in the late 1960s and into the life of Phyllis Fischer, a middle-aged married mother of two who, after feeling mostly content as a housewife for years, suddenly has a reawakening when she embarks on a love affair with Nicholas, the twenty-something-year-old son of family friends.

The prose is lyrical and descriptive. The characters are authentic, honest, and multi-layered. And the plot sweeps you away into a compelling, greek tragedy-like saga about motherhood, independence, responsibility, age disparity, adultery, seduction, desire, secrets, freedom, independence, compromise, and love.

Overall, Free Love is an atmospheric, pensive, provocative tale by Hadley that does a wonderful job of highlighting all the challenges and changes women experienced both personally and professionally during that time, and although I don’t think it will be everybody’s cup of tea, it is abundantly clear from the outset that Hadley is an exquisite literary writer with an uncanny ability to lay bare the lengths and sacrifices humanity will go to all for the sake of love.


This novel is available now.

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Thank you to Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Tessa Hadley

TESSA HADLEY is the author of seven highly praised novels, Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Everything Will Be All Right, The Master Bedroom, The London Train, Clever Girl, The Past and Late in the Day, and three collections of stories, Sunstroke, Married Love and Bad Dreams. The Past won the Hawthornden Prize for 2016, and Bad Dreams won the 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She lives in London and is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in the New Yorker and other magazines.

Photo by Mark Vessey.