‘The Bunty Club’ by Tessa Hadley

The Bunty Club by Tessa Hadley, 2019

The magic trick:

Giving us a third way of learning about the three sisters: often having two of them talking to each other about the third

Another great story from Hadley here. Nothing dramatic. Just great character development in a short form.

The story features three sisters, returning to their childhood home to tend to their ailing mother.

Remarkably, we get to know each woman very well very quickly. Hadley plays with point of view, often pairing two of the sisters off and having them observe or discuss the third.

It gives us a third way to learn about the sisters, in addition to the more standard third-person action and free indirect perspectives.

And that’s quite a trick on Hadley’s part.

The selection:

Gillian came to stand beside her, and together they watched Serena dance in the long grass, flitting like a sprite in her tiered black cotton skirt and satiny top, which she had most likely got at a charity shop—she was solemn about waste and recycling. Seven years younger than Gillian, an afterthought in the family, their father’s favorite, fey and fine-boned, Serena had had whatever success she wanted with the town boys and disdained it. She exasperated Pippa and Gillian because she was intolerant and touchy, had no sense of humor; everyone trod carefully around Serena. As a newborn, she’d been very sick, with a hole in her heart; their father, who was the headmaster of the local secondary school and a lay preacher in the C. of E., had prayed over her cot in the intensive-care ward, begging God to save her. No doubt that had affected her character.


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