- The Old Jest by Jennifer Johnston
Hamish Hamilton, 167 pp, £4.95
- The Goosefeather Bed by Diana Melly
Duckworth, 139 pp, £5.95
- The Snow Man by Valerie Kershaw
Duckworth, 159 pp, £5.95
- Spring Sonata by Bernice Rubens
W.H. Allen, 215 pp, £4.94
The Old Jest is set in a village on the Irish coast, not far from Dublin, in the summer of 1920. Nancy Gulliver, the heroine, an orphan just turned 18, lives in a fine old house with her Aunt Mary and a senile, hymn-singing grandfather. In this holiday between school and university she strikes up a relationship with a middle-aged Republican gunman hiding out in a hut on the shore. The action of the novel is concerned with this relationship and what it leads to.
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.