Femina Real

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ISBN 9780571255016 Format Paperback
9780571255016
Paperback
Published 15/10/2009 Length 222 pages
222

About Book

This collection of nine short stories contains some of A. L. Barker's most powerful and disquieting fiction. 'Noon', about a middle-aged man's unacknowledged trysts with a young girl, memorably expresses the ambivalence and repression which haunts ordinary and respectable lives against the backdrop of a Mediterranean package-holiday hotel; in 'Glory, Glory Allelujah' an aging brother and sister attempt to exorcise the imprisoned hopelessness of their lives in a ritual bonfire in memory of their dead mother; and with stories such as 'Almost an International Incident' and 'Monstra Deliciosa' the author attunes her command of humour and finely wrought levity to display a writing sensibility that alternates between despair and sanguinity to unique, skilful and moving effect.

'She is formidable, and from a bare corner of human relations gathers a rich harvest.' Adam Mars-Jones

'Her glancing, allusive writing carries one along easily, darting from invention to invention . . . Underneath there is a firm, ordering imagination and the poise of perfect pitch.' New Statesman

'It would be hard to find anyone who chooses words more exactly or constructs with more precision.' Penelope Fitzgerald

This collection of nine short stories contains some of A. L. Barker's most powerful and disquieting fiction. 'Noon', about a middle-aged man's unacknowledged trysts with a young girl, memorably expresses the ambivalence and repression which haunts ordinary and respectable lives against the backdrop of a Mediterranean package-holiday hotel; in 'Glory, Glory Allelujah' an aging brother and sister attempt to exorcise the imprisoned hopelessness of their lives in a ritual bonfire in memory of their dead mother; and with stories such as 'Almost an International Incident' and 'Monstra Deliciosa' the author attunes her command of humour and finely wrought levity to display a writing sensibility that alternates between despair and sanguinity to unique, skilful and moving effect.'She is formidable, and from a bare corner of human relations gathers a rich harvest.' Adam Mars-Jones'Her glancing, allusive writing carries one along easily, darting from invention to invention . . . Underneath there is a firm, ordering imagination and the poise of perfect pitch.' New Statesman'It would be hard to find anyone who chooses words more exactly or constructs with more precision.' Penelope Fitzgerald
  • About A. L. Barker

    A. L. Barker (1918-2002) was a short story writer and novelist. Born in St Paul's Cray, Kent, she lived in the same milieu where London borders on Kent and Surrey, for the rest of her life. As her Oxford DNB entry says it was 'the chief setting for her work, which often seemed to partake of the quotidian mysteriousness and even abandonment of these areas.'

    Her first selection of short stories, Innocents, won the Somerset Maugham award in 1947. Of her short stories, Robert Nye has written, 'stories as carefully composed as poems, quiet and delicate and reserved perhaps, but oddly lingering in the mind.'

    Although a stranger to commercial success, she never wanted for admirers, Jane Gardam, Francis King, Auberon Waugh, Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West, John Sutherland, Deborah Moggach, Ronald Blythe, Susan Hill, A. S. Byatt, Adam Mars-Jones, Nina Bawden and Victoria Glendinning being just some of them.

    A. L. Barker deserves to be better known. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing her entire oeuvre, six volumes of short stories - Innocents, Novelette with Other Stories, Femina Real, Life Stories, No Words of Love and Element of Doubt - and thirteen novels - Apology for a Hero, A Case Examined, The Joy-Ride and After, Lost Upon the Roundabouts, The Middling, John Brown's Body, Source of Embarrassment, A Heavy Feather, Relative Successes, The Gooseboy, The Woman Who Talked to Herself, Zeph and The Haunt.

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