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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