Ann Oakley


Wry, achingly funny and with razor-sharp observation, Ann Oakley sets her long-awaited new novel in the time of the pandemic lockdown. Seventy-four-year-old Alice Henry tries to maintain some resemblance of her normal life but is ambushed by family, friends and events beyond her control. Her obsession with solving the mystery of a decapitated woman on a railway line is both a new direction and an escape from life’s absurdities.

The Strange Lockdown Life of Alice Henry is oddly comforting, with lots to smile and nod at, alongside the stuff that makes you cringe and rage and shudder.
Zoe Fairbairn –

Publication date: January 28 2022 – available for advance order
978-1-9196248-4-6 Paperback
Price: £8.99


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About this book

We’ve waited a long time for this new novel from Ann Oakley and it is timely, set in the perplexing present of the constraints of the Covid pandemic. Locked down, Alice Henry needs a purpose in her final years – an ongoing muddle of medical, domestic and romantic interruptions. Then she stumbles on the unsolved case of social researcher, Maud Davies, found decapitated on a London railway line. The blackly funny narrative weaves together the stories of the two women as Alice becomes obsessed with Maud’s fate and determines to solve the mystery of her untimely death.

About the author

In a distinguished career lasting nearly sixty years Ann Oakley has produced many trail-blazing publications that span the fiction – non-fiction divide. Her first published novel, The Men’s Room, was serialised by the BBC in 1991. Her next six novels reflect her interest in women’s lives, the family, pregnancy and birth, and university life. The Strange Lockdown Life of Alice Henry is her first novel after a break of more than twenty years. Ann’s non-fiction writings include pioneering books about sex and gender, housework, women’s studies, reproductive health, social policy and research methods. Ann divides her time between London and a rural retreat in the Midlands, and between writing, research, swimming, gardening and an active role in the lives of her three children and five grandchildren.


Additional information

Book Type

E-Book, Paperback


Alice’s suspicions, obsessions, fears, amusement and neediness interweave on the pages of Ann Oakley’s account of what all of us have in our different ways been going through, are still going through. One of the strangest things about Ann Oakley’s book is that use of the word ‘strange’ in the title – as if everyone else’s lockdown life is normal. But nothing’s normal any more. Perhaps the day will come when Alice and her factual equivalents will be historic figures for future historians and fiction writers to track down and speculate about. In the meantime, The strange lockdown life of Alice Henry is oddly comforting, with lots to smile and nod at, alongside the stuff that makes you cringe and rage and shudder.

Zoe Fairbairn –

This novel from sociologist author has it all – jokey nostalgia for dinner party era, sex, dentistry intergenerational knowledge sharing and the power of female friendship, walks, and talks and maternal love. A good refreshing read in troubling times.

Amazon reader, Davy Crockett