The Haunt

A. L. Barker
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ISBN 9780571259762 Format Paperback
Published 18/02/2010 Length 192 pages

About Book

Originally published in 1999, The Haunt, set in a seedy, decaying hotel on the Cornish coast, was to be the final entry in A.L. Barker's brilliant fifty-year writing career.

'The Haunt is the novel that A. L. Barker had just finished [in 1998] when she was struck down by a disabling illness... [It] is probably her best... It is an examination of what being haunted means, and whether we can do anything about it. Auden once said that there is nothing to be done about it. We must sit it out. This is grim advice. But if A. L. Barker is saying this too - and I think she is - she doesn't say it grimly. She says it lightly, not cynically but hilariously. She understands that there can be pleasure alongside unease: the delicious first stirrings of infidelity, the comforts of offered love to the old and ridiculous. She knows us all.' Jane Gardam, Spectator

  • 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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