Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

I woke up at 5.20am this morning and had a further thought about Irene Baird’s novel John (publication date unsure but it’s out of copyright so must be 1920’s/early 30’s). The Danae woman character is a feisty woman. There’s one scene I recall where she sits down in a boat, her hair is described as cut short in the wartime style (not an accurate quote but some such) and she hides the fact she’s several months pregnant from the postman John. (There are a few Johns in this book) She already has a son John, and I missed where that young son was exactly.

The main man aforementioned rural John (the postman) is quite a curious creation because compared to say Bertrand Sinclair’s men of the same period he’s not nearly as troubled, distressed, angry or misunderstood. He’s a gentle, satisfied bloke who carries on with his days. I’ve just gotten to the point where the new neighbour (cue battle scene music) moves in.

The prose and pastoral romance do very little for me, except the humour I find in the peculiarities, but on waking I had to consider her characters against what else was being written at that time. I am also deeply curious as to how she went from this novel John to her formidable later novel Waste Heritage. They are so distinct from each other, that in itself is worth noting, since it’s an achievement to produce very separate works.

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