Alannah Hopkin

Writer and journalist

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A Joke Goes a Long Way in the Country

Posted on 10 Sep 2013 | Comments Off on A Joke Goes a Long Way in the Country

Cover graphic for A Joke Goes a Long Way in the Country by Alannah HopkinA Joke Goes A Long Way In The Country (novel)
Hamish Hamilton, London, Atheneum, New York
and Sphere Books, London. 1982.

There is a certain librarian in Cork who, every time he sees my name on my ticket, says in a furtive whisper ‘You wrote A Joke Goes a Long Way in the Country!’, and winks, as if, God forbid, I had written a dirty book.
Well, it’s lively enough, an honest account of the sort of life a single woman might live in 1982…

Reviews were mixed, as is often the way with novels that try to do something different. I wanted it to read like the inside of Alex Buckley’s head, as she attempts to choose between her glamorous London life and the peace she finds in West Cork, so it is deliberately un-literary. Each section is prefaced by extracts of factual writing about Ireland to widen the picture, which some critics disliked, as it was not what they expected in a novel. Here is a more conventional bit:
‘It was an idyllic sort of day, her last idyllic day with Tom. As usual they had one drink in all four bars in the tiny village of Allihies, with Tom’s old excuse that to leave any of them out might cause offence.

The cloud had lifted and it was perfect sunny weather with light breezes – a “pet day” Tom called it. Tomorrow, he predicted, the rain would come down again. They took one of their drinks over to the stone wall beside the yellow water pump and leant against the horse’s trough looking out across a green meadow to the cliffs and blue sea beyond.’