Sorry, non-subscribers, you can’t read this one either. No great loss, however.
Tessa Hadley has a novel coming out next year, and I thought at first this was an excerpt, but it doesn’t seem to be. First, the descriptions of the novel that I was able to find seem completely unrelated to this story. And second, the online feature that I’ve only just discovered—a short interview with the author—makes no mention that it’s an excerpt. See: This Week in Fiction: Tessa Hadley.
So, I suppose it isn’t an excerpt.
But if sure does feel like one. This story feels very told, as if it is background material for something that is about to happen. (We even get a flash-forward, as if the author is confirming this very idea.)
It’s the 1920s, ambitious young James is hanging around with his rich cousin Ellen and their other cousin Connie. He think he’s interested in Ellen, although there are clues that he begins to lose interest—he doesn’t like the way her hair smells, for example. He then goes off to work for a shipping company and survives a shipwreck in Canada. When he writes home to announce his survival it is to Connie. And it’s Connie who meets him when he comes back.
End of story. Not much here that I like, although James has potential—for the novel that this feels like it wants to be.
November 15, 2010: “The Trojan Prince” by Tessa Hadley