REVIEW by Laura Wainwright

NWR Issue 102

Clever Girl

by Tessa Hadley

‘If I was free, if I was just me, then what was I? What could I do; what could I become?’ Tessa Hadley’s fifth novel, Clever Girl, is an intimate and compelling account of the processes through which Stella, a young girl, growing up in Bristol in the 1960s and 70s, arrives at these questions, and how she carries them with her through the transitions and upheavals of adulthood and middle age. Cared for by her devoted and hard-working but emotionally guarded single mother and fastidious grandmother, as a child Stella finds the promise of liberty and independence in the simplest transgressions of family routine...

Laura Wainwright completed her PhD in Welsh Modernism at Cardiff University in 2010. She is a freelance writer and critic.

Want to read the full article? Go to our online shop where you can buy an individual issue or take out a subscription to NWR, saving £3.98 on the cover price. Prices start at £16.99 for three issues via Direct Debit, including p+p (UK only).

Buy this book at


previous review: The Visitor
next review: The Witch Doctor of Umm Suqeim


A brief note on copyright:all authors have given permission for their work to appear online on New Welsh Review's website. Copyright remains with the author. If you wish to reproduce part or all of any article then the permission of the author must be sought, and the author and New Welsh Review credited accordingly.

Contact us:Registered Office PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1WZ - Telephone 00 (44) 1970 628410
© New Welsh Review Ltd, all rights reserved - Registered in England and Wales - Registered number: 02493828
Website design: mach2media and mopublications      Website development: Technoleg Taliesin Cyf.