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.
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 – http://bookoxygen.com/?p=8585
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