Other People Manage

Ellen Hawley

‘A quietly devastating novel about our failings and how we cope’ Patrick Gale

It’s the late 70s when Marge meets Peg at the Women’s Coffee House, which is less a place to drink coffee than a place where two women can dance together safely. Who knows what draws people to each other? It’s the right time. They’re the right people.

For the next twenty years, they stay together, through the challenges any couple faces and the ones no one expects: a three-night stand refuses to stop standing, threatening to destroy the relationship almost before it starts. Peg’s sister abandons her children, leaving the family to fill in as best they can. With everyday heroism, they do their best with what they’ve got.

Then one day things change, and Marge has to work out what she’s left with – and if she still belongs to the family she’s adopted as her own.

Other People Manage is a novel of great wisdom but light touch about love and loss and family – and how to survive them all.

First published:
April 14, 2022


Reviews for Other People Manage

‘A short, quietly devastating novel about our failings and how we cope; if you can imagine an Anne Tyler or Carol Shields novel about an outsize lesbian bus driver and the ordinary complexity of the second family love draws around her you’re close to what Ellen Hawley achieves here’ – Patrick Gale


Ellen Hawley

Ellen Hawley has worked as an editor and copy editor, a talk-show host, a cab driver, a waitress, a janitor, an assembler, a file clerk, and for four panic-filled hours, a receptionist. She has also taught creative writing. She was born and raised in New York, lived in Minnesota for many long, cold winters, and now lives in Cornwall, U.K.