Bad Dreams and Other Stories

Narrated by: Emma Gregory
Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The award-winning author of The Past once again "crystallizes the atmosphere of ordinary life in prose somehow miraculous and natural" (Washington Post), in a collection of stories that elevate the mundane into the exceptional.

The author of six critically acclaimed novels, Tessa Hadley has proven herself to be the champion of revealing the hidden depths in the deceptively simple. In these short stories, it's the ordinary things that turn out to be most extraordinary: the history of a length of fabric or a forgotten jacket.

Two sisters quarrel over an inheritance and a new baby; a child awake in the night explores the familiar rooms of her home, made strange by the darkness; a housekeeper caring for a helpless old man uncovers secrets from his past. The first steps into a turning point and a new life are made so easily and carelessly: Each of these stories illuminates a crucial moment of transition, often imperceptible to the protagonist.

A girl accepts a lift in a car with some older boys; a young woman reads the diaries she discovers while housesitting. Small acts have large consequences, some that can reverberate across decades; private fantasies can affect other people, for better and worse. The real things that happen to people, the accidents that befall them, are every bit as mysterious as their longings and their dreams.

Bad Dreams and Other Stories demonstrates yet again that Tessa Hadley "puts on paper a consciousness so visceral, so fully realized, it heightens and expands your own. She is a true master." (Lily King, author of Euphoria)

©2017 Tessa Hadley (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    25
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    35
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    24
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Small Objects, Big Insights

Tessa Hadley's short stories are always deceptive, in a good way. They come off as small tales of ordinary people (a child plagued by nightmares, a housekeeper, two sisters at odds over the sale of their parents; home), often in mundane situations. But what Hadley brings to their stories is a remarkable level of authenticity of character. She has mastered the language of thought, of interior emotions like few other writers today. These are people who think as we tend to think, who feel in the ways that we often feel, and yet she conveys this not through vague, abstract words but through concrete objects, visual snapshots, lingering sounds, metaphors. It's quite a skill, and it serves her well.

The ten stories in this collection vary greatly yet are all linked by a moment of self-discovery. In "Abduction," set in the 1960s, a teenaged girl left home alone on break accepts a ride from three unknown boys. It might have gone the way of Joyce Carol Oates's "Where Are you Going? Where Have you Been?" but Hadley is too perceptive to fall for that trap. In "One Saturday Morning," a 10-year old opens the door to an unknown acquaintance of her parents while they run errands. Their conversation, and the one that she overhears when her parents come home, give her a first peek into adult life and a moment of maturing empathy. Claire, the focus of "Flight," is a successful woman who returns to visit her working class sister, using the birth of a nephew as an excuse for reconciliation, but perhaps her intentions are not as altruistic as she would like to believe. A housekeeper reads her employer's diary, uncovering secrets that change their relationship. A designer is called on to create a trousseau for a former classmate.

Simple stories, simple moments, extraordinary insights into human nature conveyed through Hadley's perceptiveness and masterful style.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Abduction and Flight will stay with me 📖 📚

I usually cannot stay interested in a book of short stories, but this book is an exception. Tessa Hadley is a true master of the form, and each story is so completely absorbing and so surprising (Hadley never takes the plot in the direction the reader expects) that you’ll be eager for the next one immediately after finishing the last. I especially enjoyed the first story, An Abduction, and one of the last stories, Flight, both of which, like the best short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald or Shirley Jackson or Flannery O’Connor, will stay with me. The narrator is good, but I also enjoyed reading the Kindle print version, which helped me catch details I missed on first listening.

Grade: A+
Bechdel test: Pass.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

NOT what I was expecting! Disappointed!!

I bought this book because I read an article
In which suspense & horror authors recommended the book they thought was the scariest they ever read. This book is not scary, suspenseful, creepy or shocking. For those customers like me that were led to this book from the bustle article, I repeat this book is NOT scary! I really, REALLY wanted to return this book but I haven’t because I listened to 3/4 of it (albeit with my eyebrows furrowed or only half ass listening because of sheer boredom), and also I have returned several crappy books as of late. I felt so deceived by the recommendation. I rarely read the reviews people post, I go by the stars rating, because although many times the reviewer unintentionally gives spoilers. If you are intent on reading this book, stop reading my review here. I’m not going to spoil the whole book but inbred to give an example. For those of you on the fence, I’m going to try and explain my opinion on this book. This is a book of short stories and I really love short stories and essays because I can listen and go listen to another book without having to read straight through. So my disdain has nothing to do with the books format. Ok for example, in one of the stories, a woman does something near unforgivable to her older sister, they become estranged and the younger sister moves away. She returns years later uninvited, and under false pretenses, after her niece gives birth. The older sister refuses to see her and accept her gifts, so the younger sister leaves. The End. Yes, the end! Seriously, I have had more exciting stories of being cut off on my way to work. I almost listened to the story again to make sure I hadn’t missed something. It was already painful enough the first time so, no. I went to read the reviews to see ‘what gives’ and to see if I could garner any insight as to what I wasn’t hearing. I read a couple sophisticated reviews from those who loved the book. I couldn’t help feeling like when I go to an art museum and I overhear patrons going on about perspective and hidden meaning in a piece, when all I see is a painting of a bowl of fruit with a worm in the apple! Ok so there is a worm in the apple it’s not a metaphor! That’s how I felt with the stories they are so mundane and the worm in the stories are just so minor (such as the false pretense). The author, and I won’t name names, that chose this book as scariest, I’m seriously wondering if she is frightened of her own shadow. If you want good horror or suspense recommendations look to Stephen King, he hasn’t let me down yet! So in conclusion, this book and narration is so boring and if you want help sleeping at night this is PERFECT 👌

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Perceptive

These stories fill you with a sense of being deeply understood, that all your sorrows and observations and emotions are part of the human experience that is communicated richly and wisely to you by Hadley.