The Old Jest

10 best books like The Old Jest (Jennifer Johnston): The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, The Queen of the Tambourine, How Far Can You Go?, Theory of War, Twelve Bar Blues, The Chymical Wedding, Picture Palace, Injury Time, The Children of Dynmouth, Docherty (Coronet Books)

AuthorIris Murdoch
Swinging between his wife and his mistress in the sacred and profane love machine and between the charms of morality and the excitements of sin, the psychotherapist, Blaise Gavender, sometimes wishes he could divide himself in two. Instead, he lets loose misery and confusion and—for the spectators...
AuthorJane Gardam
What is truly amazing about this book is how all the different pieces hold together! I would say that this is what characterizes Gardam’s books.

We are given a complicated puzzle that is begging to be solved. For people who love solving puzzles or mysteries, it is a must read.

AuthorDavid Lodge
This 1980 novel by Lodge (whom you may have noticed I've been reading a lot of and enjoying this year) follows a group of young English Catholics over a period of about 20 years, enabling us to see the ways their religion affects their lives (and their lives affect their religion), particularly in the shadow...
AuthorJoan Brady
"[A] vivid historical novel--part poignant biographical fiction, part raw frontier epic."
Taking flight from an extraordinary real-life family history, here is a riveting novel of how the past lives on, generation after generation. THEORY OF WAR is the richly imagined story of one...
AuthorPatrick Neate
This rich and epic novel is written with each chapter a phrase of a twelve bar blues structure, each of the different pieces of the harmonic progression coordinating with a different storyline.

The book begins with a Prologue set in the mythical Afican kingdom of Zimindo in 1790, where two young...
AuthorLindsay Clarke
I read this last December and enjoyed it immensely. It had been recommended to me twenty years ago, and finally I have been able to get to it. I could easily give it five stars, but then I would be only thinking of myself. Truth is, Clarke is a bit verbose for some tastes. And though I prefer more minimalist,...
AuthorPaul Theroux
World-famous photographer Maude Coffin Pratt has pointed her lens at the beautiful, obscure, and obscene, and at the private places and public parts of the famous, from Gertrude Stein to Graham Greene. When the seventy-year-old Maude rummages through her archives in preparation for a triumphant...
AuthorBeryl Bainbridge
"He almost took the wrong turning at the next roundabout. Muriel remained silent but pointed a contemptuous finger, at the last moment, in the correct direction"

Its that little clause at the last moment that captures the delight of this odd awkward story. The awkwardness is not of the writing,...
AuthorWilliam Trevor

The main character comes across at first as a special ed kid, but as the story evolves we see that he is truly mentally disturbed. He’s an older teenager who is cast aside by his family. He has no father and his mother and older sister are good buddies, laughing, smoking, eating...
AuthorWilliam McIlvanney
His face made a fist at the world. The twined remnant of umbilicus projected vulnerably. Hands, feet and prick. He had come equipped for the job.

Newborn Conn Docherty, raw as a fresh wound, lies between his parents in their tenement room, with no birthright but a life's labour in the pits of his...
AuthorSusan Hill
Francis Croft, the greatest poet of his age, was mad. His world was a nightmare of internal furies and haunting poetic vision. Harvey Lawson watched and protected him until his final suicide. From his solitary old age Harvey writes this brief account of their twenty years together and then burns all...
AuthorEdna O'Brien
O'Brien builds a puzzle, but once the pieces are all in place, she doesn't offer a solution. To do so would be trite. What she succeeds in doing is make clear the complexity of Ireland by giving her characters the space they need to become known and thus to become sympathetic. Not every single character...
Walk the Blue Fields: Stories
AuthorClaire Keegan
Claire Keegan’s brilliant debut collection, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and earned her resounding accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. Now she has delivered her next, much-anticipated book, Walk the Blue Fields, an unforgettable array of quietly wrenching stories...
The Comforts Of Madness
AuthorPaul Sayer
(Winner of the 1988 Whitbread Award, The Comforts of Madness is narrated by a catatonic who never speaks. To the rest of the world he is an inert body and is subjected to a variety of experiments, but his own consciousness is vital and reflective. This novel draws attention to the fact that we can never really...
AuthorFrederick Philip Grove
Settlers of the Marsh was first published in 1925, after a struggle by the author to persuade publishers that his first novel would meet public acceptance. Some critics immediately condemned this hypnotic story of the loss of innocence on the Manitoba frontier, calling it “obscene” and “indecent.”...
AuthorFrank O'Connor
This collection of stories centers on the theme of the Irish Revolution. O'Connor is concerned with the way in which war imposes a false and cruel ethic on people, ruthlessly destroying human relationships. The title story has been widely acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of the short story form.

AuthorDermot Bolger
"Devised and edited" by Dermot Bolger, Finbar's Hotel pools the efforts of seven acclaimed Irish novelists -- Joseph O'Connor, Anne Enright, Colm Toíbín, Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Johnston, Hugo Hamilton, and Bolger himself -- in a humorous and suspenseful collaborative novel. A Dublin landmark...
The Blind Miller
AuthorCatherine Cookson
Mary Hetherington was a mother who dominated her family. She was kind, efficient and generous - providing they did what she wanted. But when David brought home Sarah from the 'wrong end' of the Fifteen Streets, a girl who brought life and laughter into her dustless house, she soon took against her.

AuthorDermot Healy
'A Goat's Song' is what I would class a perfect contemporary Irish novel and a perfect modern love story (by love I mean star-crossed love). The real skill in the story is the format, which flits forwards and backwards in time, between different characters and their perspectives but this is effortless....
AuthorChristy Brown
This was a dollar shelf find while traveling around, my other choice was book on the psychology of serial killers. Fortunately, my lack of palette for gory true crime won out over my current obsession with neuroscience and I got this book instead. This isn't so much of a novel as it seems a impressionistic...
Home from the Hill
AuthorWilliam Humphrey
Twelve years after Hannah Hunnicutt was committed to a Dallas asylum, her body is brought home to northeast Texas to be buried alongside those of her husband and son. Etched on all three gravestones is the same date of death: May 28, 1939.

Home from the Hill is the story of that tragic day and the...
AuthorPatrick McCabe
From the award-winning author of "The Butcher Boy" comes a new novel of extraordinary power that, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, "confirm[s] McCabe's standing as one of the most brilliant writers to ever come out of Ireland".In "The Dead School", Patrick McCabe returns to the emotionally...
AuthorKen Bruen
cross /kros/ n., v., & adj.
1 an ancient instrument of torture
2 in a very bad humour
3 a punch thrown across an opponent's punch

Jack Taylor brings death and pain to everyone he loves. His only hope of redemption - his surrogate son, Cody - is lying in hospital in a coma. At least...
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