The Joy-Ride and After

A. L. Barker
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ISBN 9780571322015 Format Paperback
Published 29/10/2014 Length 288 pages

About Book

The Joy-Ride and After was A. L. Barker's third collection of shorter pieces, first published in 1963. It offers three novellas, linked by certain recurrent characters and by their variations on the themes of loneliness and insecurity.

The first tells of what has led to a young garage-hand 'borrowing' his employer's car, and of the disastrous consequences that ensue. In the second, a betrayed wife loses her memory after an accident, and finds herself on a barge with an old reprobate. The third concerns the tribulations of a canteen manager who has an inscrutable boss and an extravagant wife. Whether they live in slum tenement or suburban semi-detached, these 'ordinary' people become alive and phenomenal to us through the force and sympathy of Barker's imagination.

  • 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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