Notes from the Henhouse: From the author of O CALEDONIA, a book that ‘brings joy to the bleak midwinter’ - W&N Essentials (Hardback)Elspeth Barker (author)
A tour de force of intimate essay writing, these gloriously diverse pieces from the author of O Caledonia touch on pet pigs, Gothic castles and much more.
In Notes from the Henhouse, you will find:
A Gothic castle, a draughty Norfolk farmhouse and a malevolent Aga. A pet pig, Portia with a penchant for drama, an obsession with geraniums and an addiction to wine (the Bulgarian vintage). George Barker, poet and beloved husband, warbling cowboy songs into his glass and declaiming Hopkins and Houseman in The Drinking Room.
Five entrancing baby cherubimos, rolling and bouncing about in a big brass bed, before growing up at breakneck speed. The ecstasy of writing, the dither of procrastination, and the endless adventures to be had in the wild realms of the imagination. The outrage of death, the loneliness of widowhood, and then the surprising joys of dereliction: of moving very slowly round the garden in a shapeless coat, planting drifts of narcissus bulbs for latter springs.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 337 g
Dimensions: 220 x 142 x 22 mm
Elspeth Barker could write about anything and have you longing for more . . . Notes from the Henhouse is a book for which one feels incredulous gratitude. How come, you think, she is not better known? The book deserves to be permanently on the bedside table - to cheer, reassure and inspire . . . [Barker's] essays are sympathetic little masterpieces to which she brings storytelling capacity and an intensity that absorbs as the best fiction does - Kate Kellaway, THE OBSERVER
This book is heaven. Elspeth Barker writes like no one else - Olivia Laing, author of CRUDO
What a pleasure it was to read Notes from the Henhouse. An original voice, gothic, poetic and exuberantly funny - Esther Freud, author of HIDEOUS KINKY
Barker's prose is poetic but not inflated, visceral but smooth... Notes from the Henhouse is a vibrant, jubilant testament to both her life and work - Lucy Scholes, DAILY TELEGRAPH
Elspeth Barker speaks her mind fearlessly, and her mind is scintillating. Witty, caustic, erudite - as fiercely funny in writing about heartbreak and mortality as she is about drunken dinner parties and delinquent dogs - Lucy Hughes-Hallett
A masterclass in the art of the personal essay. These pieces - about pigs, and loss, and the delicate balance between art and life - are vital, and funny, and true. Though memoir, they have a powerful ambiguity, like the very best short stories - Charlie Gilmour, author of FEATHERHOOD
Elspeth Barker is magnificent, the most underrated British writer of the last century. I loved Notes from the Henhouse so much. Laugh-out-loud funny, sad and beautiful, these essays are a revelation, full of love and joy and life lessons (never go for a man who will intentionally step on a frog and be pragmatic about hens). I will read them again and again - Camilla Grudova, author of CHILDREN OF PARADISE
Brings joy to the bleak midwinter - Belinda Bamber, COUNTRY AND TOWN HOUSE MAGAZINE
Her writing is glorious and this book of essays is a wonder. Every essay is a masterpiece in miniature . . . Barker is a gift and so is this book. Buy one for yourself and one for those you love. It is that sort of book - Natasha Poliszczuk, BOOK(ISH)
A collection of utterly captivating essays about love, children, pigs, dogs, jealousy, grief, ponds, bereavement, widowhood . . . I would also recommend her only novel, O Caledonia, as an optimal curl-up read. I hope I'm not making her sound cosy - she was much too sharp and original for that - India Knight, The Times
Elspeth Barker is a writer whose work is so delightful there's almost no point in reviewing it. Why not just fill the page with quotations? . . . Those who have read Barker's only novel know the sweet bitterness and wild glitter of her writing . . . Enchanting - Louisa Young, PERSPECTIVE
Joyous, startling, funny, lush, dark and complex. The perfect stocking filler, I'd say, for the clever women in your life. - Melanie Reid, THE TIMES
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