After the Funeral and Other Stories

Knopf. Jul. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780593536193. $28. F
Strained family relationships lie at the heart of these stories from Story Prize finalist Hadley (Free Love; Bad Dreams and Other Stories), set in time periods from the 1960s to the present. Hippies figure prominently in a number of them; barefoot and tie-dyed, they embrace free love but are careless with relationships. In “My Mother’s Wedding,” with plans underway for a medieval-style marriage celebration, teenage Janey heaps scorn on the proceedings while secretly pining away for the young bridegroom. In “Funny Little Snake,” second wife Valerie is resentfully saddled with the care of her odd little stepdaughter while her self-important husband begs off with too much work to do. When the weeklong visit ends, Valerie’s relief turns to dismay when she realizes that the girl’s mother’s home is one of filth and neglect. In the title story, following the sudden death of her husband a hapless wife finds herself and her daughters in vastly reduced circumstances. As she attempts to curry favor with her married employer, she is unaware that her daughter is doing the same thing.
VERDICT Good short stories are complete and satisfying in themselves while leaving open the possibility of a continuing storyline; Hadley’s stories do both very well.
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