The Joy-Ride and After

A. L. Barker

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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.

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…

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