In the following books, Joseph Connolly has contributed either an introduction, an essay or essays.
MY LIFE AND TIMES by Jerome K. Jerome (1992)
BOOKER 30: A Celebration of the Booker Prize for Fiction 1969-1998 (1998)
BRITISH GREATS (2000)
THE BOOK OF USELESS INFORMATION (2002)
THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE: 35 Years of the Best in Contemporary Fiction 1969-2003 (2003)
BRITISH COMEDY GREATS (2003)
ICONS IN THE FIRE: The Decline of Almost Everybody in the British Film Industry 1984-2000 by Alexander Walker (2004). Joseph Connolly is Alexander Walker's Literary Executor.
PRIVATE PASSIONS by Michael Berkeley (2005)
FOLIO 60: A Bibliography of The Folio Society 1947-2007 by Paul Nash (2007)
A HEDONIST'S GUIDE TO LIFE (2007)
ON THE ART OF MAKING UP ONE'S MIND by Jerome K. Jerome (2009)
CHRISTMAS PUDDING BY NANCY MITFORD (2011)
Poor Souls (Faber and Faber 1995)
Connolly remorselessly points up social pretensions with the eye of Dostoevsky...this satire on human behaviour is timeless.
Left: Earlier covers. Right: The Audio Cassette, read by Rik Mayall
This is It (Faber and Faber 1996)When Eric Pizer is knocked down by a bus one morning and ends up on crutches, the business of keeping all his lives intact becomes just that bit more difficult. Weekends in the country with his wife; weekdays in London with his pretend job and certifiable girlfriend, Fiona; and sinister and threatening phone calls from someone called Slingsby. Life for Eric is about to become very complicated.
It is Connolly's skill to get the reader to laugh at what should make you cry or at least wince
Stuff (Faber and Faber 1997)
To Emily, her interior design business is everything, but to her clueless husband, Kevin, it’s just a load of stuff. He despairs of her, and turns instead to Milly – but their brief time together in Brighton has unforeseen and dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Emily embarks on an affair with a PR man called Raymond. But it soon becomes apparent that he’s much keener on her daughter Shelley…
A rich, darkly funny and densely plotted novel, Stuff moves at an unflagging pace towards a surprising and electrifying denouement.
You find yourself swept up into a whirlwind plot…Behind the chaos, a blacker and more sardonic wit bites crisply
Summer Things (Faber and Faber 1998)
An unforgettable trip to the further shores of lust, snobbery and adultery, Summer Things is the much-loved bestselling comedy by one of Britain’s funniest novelists. With a whirlwind plot and characters who let nothing stand between them and pleasure, Summer Things hurtles along with exhilarating momentum – unstoppable, startling and hilarious.
...Connolly has established himself as a very English comic author, in the tradition of P.G. Wodehouse
Left: 1-3 Earlier covers. Far right: DVD cover
Winter Breaks (Faber and Faber 1999)
Waspish, morose, neatly crafted and distressingly funny.
It Can't Go On (Faber and Faber 2000)At just another drinks party he very nearly chose not to go to, Jeremy catches sight of Maria and is instantly attracted to her. Completely under her spell, he embarks on an affair and becomes answerable to her every whim. Meanwhile his wife Anne orders him out of the house for entirely different reasons–she’s concluded he’s having an affair with the nanny of their two children. As an unstoppable chain of events follows, the lives of Jeremy, Anne and an ever expanding circle of characters are changed forever in a novel rich with humour, absurdity, sex, pain and puzzlement.
SOS (Faber and Faber 2001)
The Sunday Times
…SOS is in another league altogether. His fans – and there are many – will be please to find his trademark style in full swing.
Works, The (Faber and Faber 2003)
Lucas Cage can now lay claim to the only part of his father’s legacy he ever craved – The Works – a disused old print house by the Thames. Lucas invites special people to share it with him, and Jamie Dear is one of those who grasps the opportunity to escape his wife and cramped flat to be close to Lucas. Jamie becomes a catalyst linking the lives of all the other disparate souls amid the frailty, lust and dependency, while the clam and omniscient spirit of Lucas hovers above them all.
Love is Strange (Faber and Faber 2005)
...A tragedy of embarrassment, where every detail is comic
Adam Mars-Jones: The Observer
Jack the Lad and Bloody Mary (Faber and Faber 2007)
1939, Jackie and Mary are just two of the millions of ordinary Londoners whose lives are changed by the most extraordinary of circumstances. Unmarried yet very much in love, their life together before the war is ordered and conventional enough: Jackie’s work as a labourer brings in modest but adequate funds while Mary is content in her role about the house.
The coming of war changes all of this as under the influence of the slyly affable Jonathan Leakey, a go-between for the urbane, sinister and thoroughly corrupting Nigel Wisley, Jackie is inveigled into underworld activities which soon earn him the local nickname, Jack the Lad. Jackie’s friend and erstwhile drinking partner, Dickie Wheat, finds his life similarly altered; what with doctors being more in demand than ever before. Perhaps most changed though, is Mary; the circumstances of whose transformation make up the bloody heart and soul of this novel.
A story of love and domestic routine unsettled by a seemingly distant war come to home shores, Jack the Lad and Bloody Mary is an unforgettable depiction of life during wartime by a contemporary master.
Why isn't Joseph Connolly more famous? It is one of the imponderables of modern British fiction. His literary pedigree is impeccable ... If any book is likely to change this state of affairs, it's Jack the Lad and Bloody Mary… an interesting companion piece to that other recent sideways look at London during the Second World War, The Night Watch by Sarah Waters ... while both books focus on the war's hidden stories, Connolly's tells a more disturbing and less redemptive tale, about Londoners who were not cut out to be heroes or whose moral compasses were shattered by the war.
Connolly reveals a story of unwanted pregnancy, backstreet abortionists and Mary's own mission to 'ease the lot of afflicted women' .. This enormous book contains much that is grim, bloody, almost overwhelming to read, but it proves Connolly to be an original and masterly novelist.
The Daily Mail
Home Fire Burning, Joseph Connolly's early novels were light comedies [More...] The Scotsman
The 'hell trap' of being a writer of comedy [More...]
Camden New Journal
'We was all normal, one time' [More...]
Into the depths [More...]
Losers in the people’s war [More...]
England's Lane (Published 31st August 2012 by Quercus)
Winter 1959. Three married couples: each living above their shops in England's Lane. Each with an only child, and each attending to family and their livelihoods. Each of them living a lie, disguising sin, and coping in the only way they know how.
Paperback and Audio Book
“Flitting in and out of the minds of the major characters, Connolly unfolds a rich and compelling drama of life that is anything but everyday. With Dickensian attention to detail, trademark black humour and a genuine love for his characters, Connolly's eleventh novel may well be his masterpiece”. Daily Mail
“The tone is intimate, which makes the dark spots all the more chilling”. The Times
“Joseph Connolly takes us back to the golden age of high street shopping in his eleventh novel. He captures the eponymous street midway between the end of wartime rationing and the rise of the out of town supermarket, and relishes the paraphernalia of the late 1950s. He is a writer who specialises in convoluted social comedies with a dark undertone - and there is a lot of fun to be had along the way”. The Guardian
“England's Lane is a novel of voices. Of voices shaped by time and place and class. The novel is not short of incident, and Connolly has a keen sense of the hushed emotional tenderness of English life and our silent shattering pain”. The Sunday Telegraph
“Connolly's expert character craft means the story never confuses. So unique is each character's vernacular that, even in busy scenes, it's always obvious who's speaking. But it's the detail that makes the book shine: from the period brand names to the clothes, make-up and language. A darkly humorous, colourful and deliciously indulgent caricature of a rampant post War England”. Time Out
“Connolly really excels as a stylist. The story quickly gathers momentum, roars into life and becomes as gripping and unique a read as anything you are likely to encounter”. Hampstead & Highgate Express
“Much of the novel is interior monologue, and Connolly switches from one voice to another abruptly and quite often without any indication of the change. It's a way of writing he has made his own, and it is very effective. There are many attractive things about Connolly's novels - the total effect is pleasing and invigorating. There is no other novelist today who writes quite like Connolly. He may be an acquired taste, but it is a taste well worth acquiring”. The Scotsman
Interviews downloadable as PDFs from here...
Boys and Girls (Published April 2014 Quercus)
‘But not instead of you, Alan, my sugar – as well as. You see?’
Yet once Susan has brazenly commandeered her boss’s rich, elderly hand, Alan finds himself curiously cherishing the company – sharing wife, whisky and other, odder peccadilloes. Indeed Susan is forced to root out alternative amusements – and with their teenage daughter copying her disintegrating moral code, the complex machinery of their lives soon begins to break down.
Joseph Connolly plunges the reader into a tumultuous medley of inner monologues with keen, unabashed relish; exposing marital bedroom and male bonding in this biting, excruciatingly funny observation of men, women and adolescent girls.
Style (Published March 2015 Quercus)
Style is a brilliant exposition of maniacal parental ambition within a society in thrall to celebrity and fashionable acquisition.
Joseph Connolly's utterly topical, finely written and cruelly funny novel draws one into a web of comic and startling ives, each increasingly poisoned by fatuous obsession, suffocating love, appalling duplicity, and the sacrifice of innocence.
This is 64 (published 4th May 2017)
‘I am 64. Not believable. How did all those years fly by? How did I, George Reilly, go from being a fresh-faced teenager to just so bloody old . . .? Because it is the other 64 I am now remembering: 1964, oh yes – that is when it started happening for me. That was the year when the Sixties just erupted – and me, I wanted everything. And there were so many people all around me who actually seemed to have it. They truly did seem to have the lot: the cars, the clothes – the money, the glamour. And the girls . . . oh my God: the girls.’
From being nineteen and perpetually broke, forty-five years on George Reilly is now rich, successful and very pleased with how his life has turned out. He can look back with indulgence on the follies of his teenage self, at the pleasures of loves and friendships and the pain at their eventual loss. Though he doesn’t yet realise that his past was never really behind him and that his precise and ordered existence is poised to descend into wholly unexpected turmoil.
Collecting Modern First Editions (Studio Vista 1977)
P.G. Wodehouse: An Illustrated Biography (Orbis 1979, 1987)
Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography (Orbis 1982)
Modern First Editions: Their Value To Collectors (Orbis 1984, 1993)
A complete rewrite of CMFE, with new colour photographs. Two more revised editions were published by Macdonald and Little, Brown. Reissued in 1987 by Thames and Hudson, as illustrated.
The Book Quiz Book (Penguin 1984)
Children's Modern First Editions (Macdonald Orbis 1988)
Beside The Seaside (Mitchell Beazley 1999, 2002)
A glorious celebration of the British seaside, with scores of vintage black and white pictures, and specially commissioned contemporary colour ones.
All Shook Up: A Flash Of The Fifties (Cassell 2000)
Christmas, And How To Survive It (Little Books 2003)
Wodehouse (Haus Publishing 2004)
Faber And Faber: Eighty Years Of Book Cover Design (Faber and Faber 2009)
2009 sees the eightieth anniversary of Faber and Faber, the pre-eminent independent publisher. As a major part of the celebrations, Joseph Connolly has created an impassioned history of Faber's unrivalled and much admired book cover design. Here is a full and heartfelt tribute, a love letter to the many great artists and designers, reflecting new as well as evolving tastes and techniques throughout every year. From the beginnings in 1929, it travels through the golden age of startling and brilliant innovation by Berthold Wolpe - for decades Faber's resident art director and cover designer extraordinaire - through the fruitful collaboration with Pentagram, and on to the present day. This splendid, full-colour and superbly produced volume is, as Joseph Connolly concludes in his preface, "a lavish celebration of the art and beauty of these magnificent covers from just the first eighty years".
THE A-Z OF EATING OUT
BRAND NEW FOR FEBRUARY 10th: The very first book on the subject – not a restaurant guide, not a cook book, but 150 alphabetical entries that tell you all you need to know about the whole fabulous and sometimes maddening business of eating out. A beautifully designed hardback from Thames & Hudson.