Read The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle Online


By the author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, winner of the 1993 Booker Prize, this is the life history of Paula Spencer - her contented childhood, her romance with Charlo, and her sad marriage. It is the story of a working class woman in her 30s who is both vulnerable and strong....

Title : The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780224042727
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 226 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors Reviews

  • Dannii Elle
    2019-01-16 21:16

    This author has been on my radar since a creative course in university, when my lecturer provided us with her self-curated list of 100 books/authors to read in our lifetime. Roddy Doyle's name headed the piece. I acquired a collection of his best known works and then did nothing else with them for a few years.I admit I was fearful that his writing might not have aged well, when I read the synopsis and reviews that spoke of this cultural focus. I was wrong. So very wrong. Doyle provides a startling and insightful vision of suburban Irish dialogue and society. His characters felt authentic and their flaws exuded life and vitality often missing from other contemporary literature, I have read. The dialogue also radiated personality. Each character was given a voice truly of their own and the nuances in tone and expression made them immediately recognisable, to the reader.This was also a devastatingly sad read. As protagonist, Paula, takes us through her life in a series of flashbacks, we are invited to bear witness to the utter sorrow that has chronicled it. This entire piece was raw emotion. In places it was almost too sorrowful to continue reading and I spent much of my reading straining to make sense of the words, through tear-filled and red-rimmed eyes. There is a brutality evident in every scene this delivers.This emotion is what made this an unforgettable piece. It has an important story to tell and a powerful message to deliver. It is also one I don't feel I could ever deliver, for how deeply its words have wounded it, despite the five stars I have awarded it. It is not a piece without hope but the horror ultimately outweighed the ending, for me.

  • Amy
    2019-02-08 22:20

    I love this author. He is raw with emotion. i love this passage: "Everything made you on thing or the other. It tired you out sometimes. I remember spending ages exhausted and upset. It was nice knowing that boys wanted you then you couldn't want them back. If you smiled at more than one you were a slut; if you didn't smile at all you were a tight bitch. If you smiled at the wrong boy you were back to being a slut and you might get a hiding from his girlfriend, and she'd be a slut for pulling your hair and you'd be one for letting her. Boys could ask you to go with them and you couldn't ask them. You had to get your friends to let the boys know that you'd say yes if you were asked. That could make you a slut as well, if you go the wrong friend to ask for you....-SlutMy little brother.-SlutMy father.Everyone. They were all in on it."Roddy Doyle has a way of making the most devastating and meaningful statements in sentences that are about 5 words long. I don't know how he does it.

  • Tony
    2019-01-27 21:11

    I have given The Speech at least a hundred times. At least. The setting, the words, and sadly the result are essentially the same.There is bustle all about. But I find the quietest room available. It’s me. And Her. And a cop or a counselor. It’s not always the same HER, of course. But some are repeaters. Those ones have heard The Speech before, but they act as if they haven’t.She’s been beaten. A little or a lot. Enough to call the cops. And now here we are, three to seven days later. She wants him out, which I know means She will take him back. The Speech is explanatory, detailed; some of it is ‘cover my ass’. When The Speech is over it will be my call, not Her’s. Yet almost every time I will do what She wants. It’s just first I have to give The Speech. She will want him out because of ‘the kids’. Which is why, near the end of The Speech, I make sure I tell Her that these things are generational: that if her son sees this, he will grow up to hit; and if her daughter sees this she will grow up and let herself be beaten. It is at that moment that I see a flicker of understanding. But it doesn’t change the resolve. I have not changed Her mind. It is then I think, and sometimes say, that the next beaten women who call the cops and follows through will be the first. That sadness sometimes gets a flicker too, but nothing more.Paula Spencer, in The Women Who Walked into Doors, is such a woman. I read it because I read Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints and thought it was hilarious. Not great literature, mind you; but Doyle clearly has an ear. For the language of Dublinese. He has an ‘ear’ here too, in this otherwise depressing tale. But there are no insights and no great writing. It’s as if, fresh off his Booker, he decided to write a novel about domestic violence. Told in the first person, there are rambling monologues by Paula. She repeats herself, the same phrases over and over – ‘Leave my Mammy alone’ ‘I fell’ ‘No one saw me’. She calls herself ‘The woman who walked into walls’ four times in four pages. He loved me and he beat me. I loved him and I took it. It’s as simple as that.No, it can’t be. It’s hard for me to understand because I’ve never had the urge. But I know it’s not that simple. This book did nothing to help my understanding or my sadness.

  • will
    2019-01-23 18:06

    The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle.Roddy Doyle is a wonderful writer. Normally his books are fast reads, he writes is an easy going flowing way. His books contain a certain amount of humour but that is because he writes "slice of life" stories. His characters are real, the stories are real and real life (or so I've been told) contains a certain amount of humour.The Woman Who walked Into Doors possesses many of these ingredients but there is a shadow over the book. It is a love story but it is the story of a victim, a woman who is beaten by her husband, a woman who spends time in hospital, hiding the beatings with a simple excuse: I walked into a door. Whereas normally Doyle's stories flow, this shadow makes the book a slow read. It is a thin book, a mere 200+ pages, but it is a very thick read. The end of the book contains so much violence, violence of language, violence of action, violence of deeds. It is a redeeming story, Paula Spencer finally escapes from her prison - instead of walking into doors she finds the key to open the door and leave. But the story is so harrowing that there is no sense of relief at the end. I finished the book drained and upset.Doyle has written a follow up, called Paula Spencer, that sits on my bookshelf. I suppose I should read it straight away. There has to be a happy ending (or at least I hope there is) but at this moment I don't really want to drag myself back into Paula's world. I need some light relief.This was a good book, a not an enjoyable book, because the story isn't one that you could really "enjoy". It tells a tale that, by the end has an outcome where all of the victims of Charlo's violence are still alive - if they actually have lives, remains to be seen.

  • Joanie
    2019-01-28 01:14

    I decided to re-read this before reading the sequel Paula Spencer. I had forgotten just how good this book is, just how well Doyle does a female protagonist. The book is painful and sad and unflinching in it's descriptions of marital abuse and alcoholism but as always, Doyle adds in warmth and humor to make it all hurt less. After my re-read I'm not sure that I want to read the sequel. I don't want to ruin the image in my head with a new story that might not be as good. Plus on the jacket it says that Paula finds a new man in the new book-I don't know that I can bear it if the story becomes a cutesy love story.Roddy Doyle tells the story of Paula Spencer, a woman in an abusive marraige who has developed a drinking problem herself. Through flashbacks we learn about Paula's adolescence and courtship with her husband and we learn about the devastating abuse she suffered at his hands. The book is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching and so well done.

  • Danna
    2019-01-16 19:08

    I picked this one up from a display at the library. I had skimmed a few pages and the writing style caught my eye (he uses punctuation and italics to visually illustrate dialog and flashbacks). I think the author did a great job telling the sadly-classic story of the abused woman, how that situation came to be and the culture in which the situation flourished, how she finally found the strength to kick her husband out of the house and keep on living. I liked the way he was able to explore how subjective our memories really are, particularly the way we can re-write our own histories in our minds as a coping mechanism until we're ready to (or forced to) face the facts more clearly. Because we all see, interpret, and respond to the world differently, the glimpses into the sisters' views of their family experiences add interesting layers to the storytelling. Some reviews I read expressed disappointment in what was thought thought to be a depressing and/or unsatisfying ending without closure, but I thought it was honest and complete. I hear there's a sequel - I have many other books on my to-read list that I'm more excited about, so I doubt I'll get around to looking for it. I was satisfied with the ending of this one.

  • Tracy
    2019-02-04 17:15

    i need to be honest. i will forget this book in 6 months. i enjoyed it, it was touching and raw. but it will vanish like most of the quick british/irish reads i've been enjoying lately, i.e. william trevor, patrick mccabe, patrick mcgrath. if these were romance novels, or anne rivers sheldon beach reads, then that would be expected. but since they are 'contemporary classics,' shouldn't they stick to the ribs longer? just because the subject is 'serious,' it doesn't mean that they aren't fluff of a different sort. is it just that i'm not reading closely enough, just a sort of high functioning skimming?

  • Donna McCaul Thibodeau
    2019-01-18 18:57

    I'm not sure that I really liked this book but it definitely deserved a four star review. Roddy Doyle manages to write a book about an abused woman from her point of view and he nails it. Amazing, really. Searingly honest, it tells the story of Paula Spencer and her day to day life married to the abusive Charlo. I read this years ago and thought I'd never go back to it as it's just so sad but he wrote a sequel and I wanted to read it so I read this one again. One of Mr. Doyle's better efforts.

  • Abigail Hillinger
    2019-01-22 20:25

    It was interesting to read about domestic violence from a woman's point of view...written by a man. The first part of the book felt significantly different from the second part--the tone, the voice, the narrative itself. One part raised the questions and shuffled the puzzle pieces around so they wouldn't quite connect for the reader, and the second brought the reader directly into this woman's psyche as her husband is literally beating her soul out of her. Certain segments were brutal and almost too much to read, but that's what kept me reading--the fact that Roddy Doyle could have written this convincing female character and that I, as a woman, sympathized and understood her. The writing at first felt too shaky and not believable, but as I said, the second half MADE the book.

  • Darryl
    2019-02-14 01:09

    I'm off to Ireland in a month on a working vacation. Wanted to read some contemporay literature from the region and found this book of Doyle's. I liked it. I do work in theodicy (the problem of evil) and trauma theory, and so am always seeking after such at the level of somatic description. In this case, I found it in the consummate craft of Doyle's characterization of Paula. Doyle has a remarkable gift of habitation. Paula is a model of sustained, air-tight, character emanicipation and density.Finishing it, it really seems odd to attribute her experience of abuse to Doyle and his imagination. There is no sense of authorial spectre here, no compositional aftertaste. Just the story. In this respect, the book is a wonder. It is rare to find a persona so engaging and yet so autonomously rendered as she is. The novel has the added bonus of slowly and delicately breaking your heart, especially in Paula's observational description of another character's final, pathetic fate. Recommended for characterization.

  • Guy
    2019-02-07 21:13

    The protagonist of Roddy Doyle’s 1996 novel, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is 39-year-old Dublin mother of four, Paula Spencer. When the novel opens, a Guard arrives at Paula’s door. This is not an unusual event as the police frequently come knocking at the door looking for Charlo, a man with a criminal past, but this time is different…From that moment, Paula recalls her story of life with Charlo, how they met, their torrid courtship, her father’s strong disapproval, and the highlight of Paula and Charlo’s life together: the wedding. From here, things go downhill: the novel includes some flashback details of domestic abuse.The novel goes back and forth from the present to the past as Paula recalls her marriage. In the present, Paula, an alcoholic (and we gradually learn how that happened) is a cleaner. She cleans a bank in the early evenings, and during the day, she cleans the houses of women her age who are considerably better off."I like seeing into other people’s houses. Funny, I hardly ever feel jealous. And I should, because some of the houses are incredible. Huge. Some of the stuff in them, I wouldn’t want most of it myself but it must have cost a fortune. Dark furniture, flat-screened tellies, CD players with tiny little speakers. I love music. There’s one house I do on Mondays, in Clontarf; they’ve a great collection of CDS, all the seventies stuff. I got her to show me how to use the CD player. There was no problem. I like her, the owner. Miriam. We’re the same age. We both went to the same dances when we were kids. I don’t remember her. She married a doctor. I married Charlo. "Paula’s story is intimate: she talks to us of her adolescence, burgeoning sexuality (you were either a “slut or a tight bitch,”) her harmless married fantasy life (at one point, she had a crush on a bus conductor), her relationships with her family, Charlo’s intimidating family, and her children. All through these memories, Charlo appears, almost as though he enters and exits the door, looking for his meals, his clean, ironed clothes and someone to absorb his violence. Author Roddy Doyle convincingly shows Paula’s reluctance to admit how bad her marriage became, how she lost an entire decade somehow.Paula tells her story with vibrancy, tenacity, and intense humanity. There’s also the sense that it’s an underground voice, swelling from behind closed doors, and emergency room visits that hide the true nature of her injuries. She meets other women shepherded in to the ER by their supposedly caring, concerned husbands. Yes the number of ‘clumsy’ women at the emergency room are legion. No one asks awkward questions, no one looks directly into the eyes of the victims, but everyone goes along with the stories that these women have fallen down the stairs or, as the title states, ‘walked into doors.’A word on style. I read some reviews complaining about the author’s style. This was very readable, but without quotation marks if that bothers anyone. The sentences are sometimes very short as they mirror speech, and Paula is speaking to us here, so sometimes she corrects or expands her thoughts with one word. The domestic abuse is recalled with a surreal quality that echoes the rapidity and illogical circumstances of Charlo’s violent rages. So in other words, it’s not blow-by-blow but rather the violence is impressionistic.Of course, we all cheer for Paula, a likeable woman who feels very real and who’s survived adversity with the scars to prove it.

  • Drgibson63
    2019-02-14 16:58

    The Woman Who walked Into DoorsIrish novelist Roddy Doyle writes very well about family life. His previous novels, which include The Van, The Snapper and The Commitments, are insightful, funny peeks into the personal lives of families who argue a lot, but also love each other. A recent work, The Woman Who Walked Into Walls, is his best yet, but it may not be for all tastes. This book, told in first-person narrative, is a profoundly depressing story about wife beating, and the ripping apart of one woman's self esteem by her sadistic, abusive husband. The scars don't completely heal, even after the monster has left the home.Paula Spencer is in her late 30s. Her husband Charlo, who she threw out of the house a year earlier, has just been killed by the police after kidnapping and killing a woman in her home. Doyle paints us a picture of Paula's current life. She's raising three kids, the youngest five, the oldest, a young woman named Nicola. Paula has a menial job cleaning homes and offices and is also an alcoholic, but doesn't drink until after the youngest is in bed. Although we know Paula was abused by her husband, that is not the main focus early on. At times the tone of the novel is almost light. Paula directs her household with a good-natured gung-ho attitude in the mornings. She argues with her sisters, especially Carmen, about their own family's past.Doyle offers readers two separate stories for more than half of the novel. One chapter deals with Paula's post-marriage life and trying to deal with Charlo's death. The next chapter recounts Paula's life as a teen and her eventual meeting with, courtship and marriage with Charlo, a good looking hood who had a prison record and a good job. He was a ÿride,ÿ in Paula's words, a man that every girl wanted, and he chose her for his wife.Charlo first hits Paula when she's pregnant with Nicola. Then he hits her again, and again, and again, and again, and then some more. In one very long extremely difficult-to-read chapter, we are provided a glimpse of the personal 17 years of hell that Paula experiences as a battered wife. As brutal as the abuse is -- it includes punching, kicking, breaking bones, using a fist to induce a miscarriage, yanking arms out of sockets, hair dragging and mental abuse -- the damage inflicted to her psyche and self esteem by her husband is as cruel. She becomes a cipher, a depressed, alcoholic, beaten in front of her children, who summons just enough energy to take care of her kids. She's whipped, yet still loves a husband who tortures her because she believes he puts up with such a worthless woman."He butted me his head. ... He kicked me up and he kicked me down the stairs. Bruised me, scalded me, threatened me. For seventeen years. Hit me, thumped me, raped me. ... Fists, boots, knee, head. Bread knife, saucepan, brush. He tore out clumps of my hair. Cigarettes, lighter ashtray. ... Months went by and nothing happened, but it was always there -- the promise of it."Doyle brings out in detail another terror of being abused. The fact that nobody cares or wants to know. Paula is admitted to hospitals by Charlo for having "walked into a door" or "fallen down the stairs." She hopes someone will ask her what's wrong, fantasizes about telling the truth. But no doctor or nurse ever does. Her mother, her father, never express concern, despite the obvious deterioration of her personality.There is an irony to this, however. When sister Carmen returns from England, she sees what no one will speak of, and begs Paula to leave. But Paula can't, and in fact hates Carmen for her concern. Besides, Charlo has threatened to kill her if she ever leaves.Something finally causes Paula to kick Charlo out. It's a spontaneous act, fueled by a terrible evil. When Charlo is booted out, with the help of a large frying pan, Paula discovers her husband, like all abusers, is a coward. He leaves and stays gone.The Woman Who Walked Into Walls is similar in theme to Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne. But Doyle is more effective than King at showing the after-effects of long-term abuse. Paula Spencer, once a fun-loving pretty girl named Paula O;Leary who married and used to wait with joy for her new husband to come home, is still a shell of her former self. The beatings stopped long ago, and Paula proves herself a survivor. But refilling a self whittled to a hollow shell takes a long time.

  • Lyn Elliott
    2019-02-01 18:58

    I came to this book reluctantly. Another book club choice I hadn't made; didn't want to read about domestic violence in general or an abused woman in particular.But Roddy Doyle hooked me from the unexpected start, 'I was told by a Guard who came to the door. He wasn't one I'd seen before, one of the usual ones....I knew before he spoke. It clicked inside me when I opened the door. (For years opening that door scared the life out of me. I hated it; it terrified me)'.And straight away we are into the chaos of Paula Spencer's life, the news that her violent husband Charlo is dead, wild kids, fear. Then a flash to when Paula and Charlo meet, and their immediate intense sexual attraction to each other. Another flash to Paula on the floor, Charlo standing over her. '"You fell, he said"'. No she hadn't. He had knocked her down. Then a rapid fire introduction to Paula's family, the O'Leary's. Most sections are very short. Like flashes of memory. Some incidents just a picture, sometimes whole conversations recalled in detail as Paula and her sisters talk together. Gradually something like a full story emerges from the pieces Paula remembers as she tries to piece her life together again, a year after she finally threw the by-now monstrous Charlo out of the house. She tries to recreate a good life, but there was no good life with Charlo, not after the first exhilaration had passed. First excitement. then excitement and fear together. Then just terror. The acts of violence don't occupy much space in the book and Paula doesn't face up to the fundamental questions until near the end. These come down to: 1) Why didn't anybody in the hospitals she went to so many times ask her the questions that would have allowed her to tell the truth - she hadn't dislocated her arm or broken her jaw by falling down the stairs (again) or had a black eye because she walked into a door. The husband who accompanied her to hospital had done it. But nobody ever did.The doctors she saw never looked at her properly. They never looked her in the eye, never saw the whole of her. They smelt drink on her breath and that was that. 2 'Why did he do it? He loved me and he beat me. I loved him and i took it. ... You can't love someone one minute, then beat them, and then love them again once the blood has been washed off. I can't separate the two things, the love and the beatings. ... I can't make two Charlos . I can't separate him into the good and the bad. I take the good and the bad comes too'. Doyle has created a believable battered woman, driven to alcohol as a means of survival, grappling to understand her life. Somehow she remains strong, despite the black despair she lived in for so long.He has managed to speak in her voice throughout the book - difficult enough for a woman who has not known these desperate places herself, but quite extraordinary for a man. One of the reviewers quoted not eh back cover of the book clearly did not understand the hideous world of abuse and terror that Paula inhabited with Charlo. He (I presume it was a he) talked about 'the vulnerability and courage of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage'. Loveless marriage????? Come on. This was vicious, repeated criminal violence, carried out by a brutal man on the woman he professed to love, and she kept on loving him. Let's be honest and say a violent marriage.Doyle wrote this book about twenty years ago (first published 1996). The violence he wrote about then still exists, in all classes of society. Once can only hope that more women get the help they need than Paula and other beaten women did then, that more doctors and nurses see the whole person, and the police become more capable of dealing with domestic violence as criminal assault. I want to read more Doyle to see what else he has to say about desperate lives, and to read about him so I can understand more about what drives him as a writer. 'Paula Spencer' is a more recent sequel, set ten years later, when Paula has survived and has begun to stop drinking. I will read this. I won't however, go back to find the tv series of the Spencer Family which preceded 'The Woman who Walked into Doors'. The Spencers are so appalling, it is hard enough to confront them on the page when you can look away, go and do something else, not have to visualise too closely.

  • Cenhner Scott
    2019-01-17 18:02

    "La mujer que se estrellaba contra las puertas" del título es Paula Spencer, una mujer que decía que se había chocado contra una puerta o que se había caído de las escaleras cuando en realidad lo que había pasado era que su marido la había recontra cagado a trompadas. Es un libro violento sobre la violencia. Ambientada en Irlanda entre los '70 hasta los '90, la novela cuenta la historia de una chica que conoce a un chico, se enamoran, se casan... y todo empieza a salir terriblemente mal. La violencia, igual, empieza desde las anécdotas de la infancia de Paula: la escuela, donde a las niñas se las trata como retrasadas mentales que sólo sirven para lavar platos; la familia, donde el padre aterroriza a la esposa y maltrata a las hijas; incluso el despertar sexual es todo un problema, porque hagas lo que hagas, podés ser o una puta o una Virgen María, y cualquiera de las dos opciones es un estigma indeseable.En medio de todo ese maltrato social, Paula conoce a Charlo, se enamoran, se casan, está todo bien hasta que un día está todo mal y él empieza a pegarle. Y le pega durante 17 años. Y no son cachetadas e insultos:"Pregúntenme. Pregúntenme. Pregúntenme.Ahí va.Nariz rota. Dientes flojos. Costillas partidas. Dedo roto. Ojos morados. No sé cuántas veces; en una ocasión ambos a la vez, uno ya descolorido, el otro recién puesto. Hombros, codos, rodillas, muñecas. Sutura en la boca. Sutura en la rodilla. Un tímpano reventado. Quemaduras. Cigarrillos en los brazos y piernas. Me aporreaba, me pateaba, me empujaba, me quemaba. Me daba cabezazos. Me inmovilizaba y me daba cabezazos; no lo podía creer. Me arrastraba por la casa de la ropa y del pelo. Me subía y me bajaba por las escaleras a patadas. Me magullaba, me escaldaba, me amenazaba. Durante 17 años. Me pegaba, me aporreaba, me violaba. 17 años. Me arrojaba al jardín. Me sacaba del ático a golpes. Puños, bota, rodillas, cabeza. Cuchillo del pan, sartén, escoba. Me arrancaba mechones de pelo. Cigarrillo, encendedor, cenicero. Me quemaba la ropa. Me dejaba fuera de la casa y me encerraba en la casa. Me hacía daño y me hacía daño y me hacía daño. (...) Perdí a todas mis amigas y la mayoría de mis dientes. Me dio a elegir, derecha o izquierda; elegí la izquierda y me rompió el meñique de la mano izquierda. Porque chamusqué una de sus camisas con la plancha. Porque el huevo estaba demasiado duro. Porque la tapa del escusado estaba húmeda. Porque porque porque. Me arrasó. Me destruyó. Y yo nunca dejé de amarlo. Lo adoraba cuando se detenía. Me sentía agradecida, tan agradecida que hubiera hecho cualquier cosa por él. Lo amaba. Y él me amaba a mí."Copié ese párrafo largo porque es una buena muestra no sólo de cómo está escrito (frases cortas y cero necesidad de explicar nada; ya está todo dicho con "puños, bota, rodillas, cabeza") sino que también está el dilema más profundo que tiene el personaje principal. Charlo es un reverendo hijo de puta que le arruinó la vida durante veinte años, y Paula lo sabe y es consciente de ello (de hecho, al comenzar el libro ya sabemos que ella lo echó de la casa y que él está muerto). Sin embargo, todo el tiempo ella lucha con sacar de su cabeza la idea de que ella es la responsable de todo. Él le pegó, pero ella se lo buscó. Ella se lo merecía. Ella lo provocó.Ella sabe, en un nivel consciente, que no es así. Pero no puede dejar de sentirlo. Y el lector está todo el tiempo atrapado en esa paradoja, en ese nudo del que ella no puede salir.Lo que no está en el libro es lo que viene después, es el rehacer una vida siendo ya adulta, ya con cuatro hijos, y con todo un equipaje pesado encima. Creo que hay una segunda parte, no me fijé bien, pero quizás es preferible quedarse con la última frase del libro, acaso uno de los pocos momentos de esperanza de la vida de Paula Spencer: "Yo había hecho algo bueno".

  • Emilia P
    2019-01-20 20:17

    This was a damn good book.Maybe "good" isn't the right word for it, but, well, Roddy D. was spot-on at getting a regular woman's voice to come through, filled with the uncompartmentalized joy, memory, despair, need, and hope that come with a hard life. The first-person narrative flashes between the past -- a not altogether unpleasant youth, and a pretty dismal but relieved present wherein Paula Spencer has kicked her husband out of the house, only to find, a year later, that he's killed a woman and in turn been killed by the police. The chapters on the past inch ever closer and closer to the present -- the courtship, the wedding, the honeymoon, the first flat, the first beating. The interspersed chapters on the present reflect on her children as they are now, her semi-functional and desperately sad (but also, understandable!) alcoholism, and the facts of her husband's death. Finally, in a great and nearly unbearable torrent, she recounts the nearly two decades of marriage that are a blur, "mush", of beatings, bone breakings, being a lump on the floor, two black eyes, and how nobody saw, nobody asked, presumed she was a drunk and it was her own fault. Everyone (doctors, cashiers, etc) , not just her husband, saw her as a collection of parts, rather than as a whole person, who needed help. It was really, chillingWhat was so striking about this book to me was not really that terrible litany of pain, but the way she was brave enough to see it within the context of her larger life, and that she was able to claim her larger life at all. I hate to pull the "Irish voice" card, but the style here was a lot like the Patrick McCabe tone, a believable and relatable, sympathetic sort of madness which we all walk around with in our heads everyday. The messiness of one's interior life which doesn't, maybe can't, translate to public life.Roddy Doyle's pretty freaking great, and easy to read to boot. Thank you sir.

  • Kiessa
    2019-01-25 23:19

    First, I'll admit that I am currently on page 79 of 226. If I had to rate my desire to keep reading from one to ten, ten being the most compelled to go on, I'd have to say that I'm about at -57.Next, let me get this out of the way. I'm no prude, and I occasionally enjoy cursing like a sailor. But even I was shocked by Mr. Doyle's overuse of the words f* and c&*#. So much so, in fact, that I can't bring myself to retype the words because I'm so over-exposed to them. The volume of cursing was a distracting and unnecessary turn-off.So Mr. Doyle has written a book about domestic violence. This is neither a surprise nor a spoiler; it was referenced on the back of the book. I have read other books about domestic violence, fiction and non-fiction, and have worked with survivors of domestic and sexual assault. Perhaps this is why I find this book to be so desperately inadequate.Over 79 repetitive pages (filled with uncreative cursing, I repeat), this author has reduced the central character to one role. That of victim. Do we as readers really believe other human beings can be so completely uni-dimensional and incapable of other defining personality traits beyond their subjugation to others? Is it possible that a woman, any woman, could ONLY be defined by the long string of men who have abused her, everyone from her classmates to the milkman to her teachers to her husband? I personally don't think so. Nowhere in these 79 pages does there seem to be any semblance of a well-developed character.There are so many books that capture the complexity of domestic violence with brilliant writing, rich characters, and a depth of understanding. Unfortunately, I don't think this novel is one of them. Anyone seeking an alternative that feels real and true might find something that will stick to their ribs in Here on Earth by Alice Hoffmann.

  • Jo Davies
    2019-01-26 18:16

    The fact that Roddy Doyle could write a book about a woman stuck in an abusive relationship and make it so utterly believable is a testament to his imagination and extreme skill as a story-teller. The story opens with Paula Spencer, a middle-aged Irish wife and mother, being told that her abusive husband Charlo has been killed by the police in an aborted attempt at kidnapping a local bank manager. This revelation fuels a boatload worth of memories of her marriage to the man at whose hands she suffered nearly two decades of humiliation and abuse. Doyle effectively uses a stream-of-consciousness style to make Paula's struggles breathtakingly immediate. You can almost feel the kicks, the slaps, the punches. You understand why Paula turns to alcohol to endure, as well as the motherly devotion which drags her back from oblivion. Doyle takes Paula's psyche and turns it inside out. He examines the guilt she feels for so many reasons: she's failed her children, she's disappointed her family, she has (nearly) allowed her husband to destroy her. Doyle asks the difficult questions about why women stay in abusive relationships and lets Paula answer them, with no punches pulled. Stunningly good.

  • Ashley
    2019-01-21 01:19

    One of my major goals in the past few years has been to read more books by women, about women. I grew up reading books by men that purported to be for general audiences, but that all too often completely whiffed on the portrayal of women's interior lives (with "great" novels and "classic" authors either completely avoiding the issue, or relying heavily on tropes and stereotypes). Female characters written by women, on the other hand, typically ring truer, even when the character's life experience and personality diverges significantly from my own and/or the book is otherwise terrible. I suppose there's a reason writers are often advised to write what they know.So when I say that I read this book and assumed, until I looked up the author's biography, that it must have been written by a woman, you can understand that to be a compliment of the highest order, both personal and professional. Roddy Doyle's empathy for and insight into Paula Spencer's mental anguish is extraordinary. Such a good book; such a fantastic author. Will definitely be checking out more of his work.

  • Victoria Wallin
    2019-02-08 21:18

    Even though I read this novel many years ago, this irish tale of Paula Spencer and her trying to survive domestic abuse has never left my mind. Roddy Doyle's description of this small irish village and its working class people struggling to stay together and society's judgements is cleverly put together with a gritty, raw language that is beautiful in its ugly truths. It is kitchen sink realism in one of its better forms. The shock of being hit the first time, the hope that it will never happen again, the love for the man, the lying, saying she was so clumsy she constantly walked into doors, all of these things are described to us by Paula, and it is impossible to judge her. It could be me, is what one thinks. What would I do? If anything, this book shows us that we probably can't answer that question until it actually happens to us. And God forbid that it ever would.This is one of those books that stays with you forever.

  • Suzanne
    2019-02-15 18:05

    A tough read, at times gruesome and depressing. Not the typical Roddy Doyle novel. As a woman you can follow the thread...this could happen to any of us if we just make enough excuses and remained silent. We may fool ourselves that it would not be us...but domestic abuse occurs all the time at all levels of society. Paula's "walking into doors" rings sadly true for so many, even the best and the brightest. Doyle bring his signature wit to Paula's reclaiming of her life. One finds oneself, as a reader, a cheerleader, wishing her all good things.

  • Guy
    2019-01-18 21:19

    Roddy Doyle - The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. “Broken nose. Loose teeth. Cracked ribs. Broken finger. Black eyes. I don’t know how many; I once had two at the same time, one fading, the other new. Shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists. Stitches in my mouth. Stitches on my chin. A ruptured eardrum. Burns. Cigarettes on my arms and legs. Thumped me, kicked me, pushed me, burned me. He butted me with his head. He held me still and butted me; I couldn’t believe it. He dragged me around the house by my clothes and by my hair. He kicked me up and he kicked me down the stairs. Bruised me, scalded me, threatened me. For seventeen years […]”The Woman Who Walked Into Doors van Roddy Doyle is geen lachertje. Dat in tegenstelling tot de Barrytown-trilogie waar hij een jaar of vijftien geleden naam mee maakte. Ik leerde ‘m, net als zoveel andere mensen, kennen via The Commitments. Ik was destijds (in 1992?) behoorlijk wild van de film (en een jaar geleden vond ik ‘m nog steeds uitstekend), en heb me dan het boek aangeschaft, zo’n kleine gele Rainbow-pocket. Een vertaling dus. Wist ik veel dat het nu ook niet zo veel moeite kost om het origineel te lezen. Doyle schreef over gewone mensen met grootse plannen, beschikte over tonnen humor, maar vooral: hij wist als geen ander dialogen te schrijven. Erna ook deel twee (The Van) en drie (The Snapper) aangeschaft, en opnieuw weg van dat sappige Ierse Engels, de verhalen over allerhande losers uit een arbeidersmilieu, en hun pogingen om er het beste van te maken. In dat opzicht vertoonde z’n boeken overeenkomsten met zowel de sociaal-realistische films van volk als Ken Loach en Mike Leigh, als een serie die ik de voorbije jaren enorm graag heb gekeken: Shameless. Het is makkelijk om met dat soort “volkse” literatuur te gaan zitten schrijven op een dierentuin-toontje (”ziet ze lopen, ziet ze zuipen, ziet ze marginaal wezen met hun afgeprijsde en/of nagemaakte merkkledij en hun zelfgerolde sigaretten”), maar Doyle schreef duidelijk over een wereld die hij kende, in- en uitademde. Na de Barrytown-trilogie heb ik me nog Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993) aangeschaft, een boek dat zo mogelijk nog beter was dan de trilogie: serieuzer, maar ook gedurfder, en Doyle slaagde moeiteloos erin om te blijven boeien met een boek geschreven vanuit het perspectief van een tienjarige die de wereld rond hem probeert te begrijpen. Daarna ben ik Doyle (en zeker zijn boeken) een beetje uit het oog verloren, tot ik laatst een weekje doorbracht aan de andere kant van de Noordzee, en in een plaatselijke boekhandel The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (1996) in handen kreeg. Ik wist al dat de humor-factor in dit boek nog wat lager lag, niet verwonderlijk gezien het onderwerp (huiselijk geweld, zoals de titel al suggereert), maar ik had geen mokerslag van dit kaliber verwacht. Deze keer schrijft Doyle vanuit het perspectief van Paula Spencer, een negenendertigjarige kuisvrouw met vier kinderen en een drankprobleem, die op een ochtend te horen krijgt dat haar vent Charlo, die ze een jaar eerder het huis uitgooide, omgekomen is bij een misdaad. Tweehonderdtwintig pagina’s lang is zij aan het woord, en vertelt ze, verward, hortend en stotend, haar levensverhaal, en dan vooral haar huwelijk met Charlo, dat zo idyllisch begon als maar kon in hun lagere klasse-milieu, maar voor haar al snel uitdraaide op een nachtmerrie van zeventien jaar. Jaja, ook ik dacht dat dit eigenlijk even goed de “literaire” tegenhanger had kunnen zijn van het soort weekendfilm dat één vroeger (toen het nog BRT 1 heette) programmeerde op zaterdagavond (moeders ter lande joegen de mouchoirkes er met de dozen door), maar niets van dat. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is een pure taalexplosie, een rauw-emotionele ontlading die hier en daar wat heeft van Chris Cleave’s Incendiary, maar veel beter gedoseerd is. Het maakt niet uit dat het Engels van Spencer vaak slordig is, dat ze zichzelf constant herhaalt, dat ze zo goed is in chaos. Het lijkt alsof het ritme en het register zich door het hele boek aanpast aan de gemoedstoestand, of de al dan niet nuchtere buien van de vrouw. Sommige hoofdstukken zijn rommelig en kort, andere zijn lucide en gestructureerd, en geven een inzicht op de tastbare en emotionele leefwereld van een vrouw wiens tanden en gevoel voor eigenwaarde er jaar na jaar uit werden geklopt. Ook geen all is well that ends well-verhaaltje dus, omdat Spencer, net als haar collega-slachtoffers, terechtkomt in een positie waar amper uit te ontsnappen valt, en het gewicht van het schuldgevoel constant met zich meedraagt: “He beat me brainless and I felt guilty. He left me without money and I was guilty. I wouldn’t let the kids in the kitchen after teatime, I couldn’t let them near the cornflakes – and I was to blame. They went wild, they went hungry and It was my fault. I couldn’t think. I could invent a family meal with an egg and four slices of stale bread but I couldn’t think properly. I couldn’t put a shape on anything. I kept falling apart.” Uiteindelijk slaagt ze er toch in om de geweldenaar het huis uit te krijgen, maar ook dat gebeurt natuurlijk niet zonder slag of stoot. Het boek had ondraaglijk hard en wrang kunnen zijn, maar dat was buiten de intelligentie van Doyle gerekend, die ook hier de nodige humor aanwendt om de lezer toch even het geweld te besparen. Het is een beetje een lullig, kapotgebruikt en hol woord geworden, maar The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is een aangrijpende roman geworden, menselijk en ontroerend, vol spijt, woede en onmacht, maar vooral ook de drang tot beterschap. Machtig. (****1/2)

  • Christian Schwoerke
    2019-02-07 23:19

    This novel was a quick two-gulp read, as I “listened” to Paula Spencer nee O’Leary tell how she became a beaten wife and how she managed, somehow, to escape. Roddy Doyle has done a splendid job of creating speech that can be heard in one’s mind, and he makes Paula’s false starts, repetitions, digressions, profanities, and recollected conversations work together to produce what seems an honest, long series of confessions and confidences to herself, a friend, and a social worker/psychiatrist.There is little narrative thrust in a traditional sense, but as a reader I felt compelled to learn more and more about what had happened to Paula and how it came to be, and how she finally was able to get free. The novel begins with a Dublin policeman telling Paula that her estranged husband, with whom she has not lived for over a year, is dead. Her ability to absorb this is limited, as the news evokes memories that come flooding back, preventing her from asking more about the death itself. She later has to call the police station to find out the circumstances of her husband Charlo’s death, and then there are the news reports on the telly and in the paper.Again the memories come to fore, and Paula describes her boisterous, lovingly contentious family, her upbringing as a positive grammar schooler turned foul-mouthed upper schooler, the innocence of boy-girl activities, then her head-over-heels love for Charlo. The feeling is powerful and positive, enough to warrant alienating her da, who thereafter never speaks to her. These moments of reverie are broken by recalled recent conversations with her sisters, Denise and Carmel, the latter the eldest of the three, and the most negative about her recollections of what their upbringing had entailed. Paula wants to retain some positive glow about those early years, and she fears that Carmel does not, that she sometimes mis-remembers to bolster her negative vision. Paula little counts the possibility that she might be working the other side of the street. It is Carmel that eventually began to extricate Paula from Charlo’s influence, though only after more than 15 years of abuse...Paula recalls the positive first days of dating, of marriage, of family, then she recalls the first instant when she was hit, an echo of the same moment that is alluded to at the beginning of the book. There are many such echoes and reverberations, and they powerfully fulfill the need of the reader to see just how jumbled and chaotic the emotions and memories are, how powerfully they collided and colluded to muddle and confine Paula to Charlo. There’s the good and the bad, and the two become inseparable, and then, finally at the end of her tether, just before she explodes, there is nothing but a ceaseless repetitious constant muddle, the only thing keeping her from simply going under are her four children. She becomes an alcoholic during these bad years, and she knows that doctors and others excuse the injuries, scars, and bruises as being self-inflicted, self-earned, and she begins to hold onto this notion herself. There is a strong shame and guilt associated with the injuries: why? how? what did I do to earn these beatings? how can I please you to stop them? Visits to the doctor are shams, as Charlo always comes with her, and they roll out a story of confusion, clumsiness, and mishap. It is later in the marriage that she wishes someone might ask the right question so she can be honest, but no one does, not doctor, nurse, nor what few friends she has. Complicity lies behind the guilt; complicity of those near her—the doctors, friends, family, and even her children—who will not acknowledge that something is wrong, that Paula is in over her head.There is a lyricism even in this pain, and Paula is able to call up the moments when things are good, the moments when things are getting better, even the moments when it all seems to be too much, and she makes it seem an extraordinary thing, a powerful resurgence of life battered by evil. She finds out that her husband had killed a woman in a botched robbery, and that the police killed him when he tried to flee. She visits the site of the killing and robbery, and the imagines how it all might have taken place. It gives her no particular satisfaction, except as a way of further confirming there was something wrong with Charlo, not herself.The moment when Paula is able to take charge is sparked by a realization that Charlo is next going to inflict his hurtful evil on their 17-year-old daughter. She wallops him multiple times with a pan, and she continues to do so until he is forced, stumbling through the door and out past the gate. He never returns, and she is relieved not to have to deal with him, but as she has unfolded her story, we know that Paula’s still having difficulties with alcohol, that she works a peculiar split-day job as house- and office-cleaner, and that her older son didn’t understand the beating she gave Charlo and is now alienated and living on his own. Roddy Doyle’s ventriloquism rings very, very true. I had no difficulty picturing Paula Spencer and her plight, nor did her acquiescence to loving, beaten “enabler” seem a bizarre passage. Just enough specificity to make it real, just enough elision to allow for some empathetic imagination, and Paula Spencer came alive, real and pitiable and admirable all at once.

  • Gattalucy
    2019-01-31 18:18

    “Il re è nudo” tutti lo vedono ma tutti zitti“Essere o non essere?” si chiedeva Amleto. E Shakespeare permeava con questo universale interrogativo un capolavoro. Chissà quali condizionamenti ancestrali che vengono da secoli di sopraffazione hanno intrappolato le donne a dubbi ben più profondi di quelli amletici: dignità o vergogna, rispetto o disprezzo, coraggio o paura, denuncia o occultamento, difesa dei figli o loro esposizione ai rischi, chiedere aiuto o sopportare in silenzio. "La mia vita era così. Le prendevo, aspettavo di prenderle, mi rimettevo a posto; dimenticavo. Poi ricominciava tutto daccapo...Mi nascondevo. Nascondevo i lividi, il dolore, la povertà. Mi picchiava fino a farmi scoppiare il cervello, e era tutta colpa mia. Mi lasciava senza soldi, e era tutta colpa mia. Sono diventata una alcolizzata. Ho scoperto di essere povera e di non aver diritto a tutte le speranze che avevo all'inizio. Senza un futuro, con niente davanti. Intrappolata in una casa che non sarebbe mai stata mia. Con un marito che godeva delle mie disgrazie. Con dei figli che non avevano nessuna speranza, come me; e starmene a gurdare loro era la cosa peggiore, la più crudele di tutte. Che speranze potevo dargli? L'avevano visto, quando lui mi buttava da una parte all'altra della cucina. L'avevano visto quando mi puntava un coltello alla gola. Avevano visto il loro padre. Mio marito." Da quello che si vede nella cronaca non sembra che la situazione sia migliorata con le ultime leggi. Del resto le donne sono sempre state “menate”, ma prima potevano stare solo zitte. Ora la possibilità di denunciare i maschi (non ce la faccio a chiamarli “uomini”) che usano loro violenza le ha portate a correre rischi maggiori, se non vengono difese subito, e non lasciate in balia dei loro aguzzini. E purtroppo capita di doverle difendere perfino dalla loro stupidità. "Uno sguardo gentile poteva farmi dimenticare tutto. Io lo amavo con tutto il cuore. Non avrei mai potuto lasciarlo." In tempi di crisi la situazione peggiora: la mancanza di lavoro per tutti le rende meno autonome e quindi più vulnerabili. Le rende vittime di tragedie annunciate ma mai fermate. Come quando Paula va al Pronto Soccorso tutta pesta accompagnata dal “tenero marito” che controlla da vicino la sua versione dei fatti, affinchè continui a dichiarare di aver sbattutto nelle porte, e tutti vedono ma fingono di non sapere: “il re è nudo, ma stare zitti è meglio!" Ma come alla fine, nelle ultime pagine, Paula butta fuori questa bestia da casa è una vera apoteosi, è come un goal alla finale del mondiale di calcio: e ho sentito insieme a me migliaia di donne fare "la ola" e urlare Siii, vai così!!!!

  • Hilary G
    2019-02-15 23:21

    Ex Bookworm group review:I know absolutely nothing about women in abusive relationships and I don't think Roddy Doyle does either. Not only do I find his attempt to portray a battered wife unconvincing, I also find his motives questionable. What on earth would make a man want to do that? I didn't sense any sort of crusade. Though he made Paula Spencer human, likeable and intelligent (with apologies to our teachers, what a condemnation of the education system she is), there was a total lack of empathy, or even sympathy, which means he probably did it for intellectual challenge. I know absolutely nothing about women in abusive relationships, but I am sure they can't be explained intellectually. Unfortunately, he worked so hard on his female literary creation that most of the other characters, and especially the men, were one-dimensional. Charlo especially was just a small-town hoodlum from an old film poster, but barely real at all. It was hard to understand even the initial attraction since he was completely charmless (unless you find eating chips out of knickers endearing and funny) and the whole relationship, including the beatings, seemed artificial because there was no complexity to his character.I didn't think it was a bad book. I liked Paula Spencer, and I thought the language was well suited to the story. Both comedy (such as Paula lobbing her wet knickers out of the window when she went to meet Charlo's family) and tragedy (her wedding day) were very deftly handled. I was also convinced by the world Paula inhabited. I liked all the little bits of local colour, such as going with boys ("You could go with a fella and not ever see him at all, it didn't matter").The one thing I did think was convincing was the way most people chose not to notice what was happening to Paula. I bet that's the way it is and that made me feel quite angry. But, although Paula said "Ask me," I wonder if she'd have told them as she said she would? I find it really hard to imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship like that, and I'm a woman, so I suppose it was quite brave of Doyle for trying. Is that why he did it – to be "brave"? If it is, in fact, a crusade to get more people to understand about such relationships, then I think it a bit of a failure because how can you understand without knowing more about Charlo? As it was, with Charlo being a cardboard cut-out and most of the rest of the parts being ones that "character actors" might audition for, this was just a description of a woman and her life, from her point of view. Paula Spencer was bright and brave, funny and tragic, a victim and a survivor, but she wasn't enough for me to think that by reading no Roddy Doyle before this, I had missed all that much.

  • Ananya Ghosh
    2019-01-19 17:16

    About 3.5 stars, but I didn't wanna give less, so I gave 4 instead.This was a surprisingly great book and an enriching literature, and I'm glad to have read this gem. This was again one of those stories that don't have a definite end and seem inconsequential and I love it. Paula Spencer is a middle aged woman, who is alcoholic, estranged from her abusive husband and barely making ends meet. She embarks on the narrative of her life and gives us little details of her life, like a holiday in a caravan, the way the first boy she dated dressed up etc. and in those little details, she paints a picture of her life so vibrant, I, the least imaginative person on this planet, could clearly see it playing in front of my eyes. Little details of her being harassed by her own younger brother, her teacher, her husband's brothers etc. are interspersed so carefully that give an idea of the 1960s Ireland where she lived, the ways of life and the daily realities for women and girls, harassment being one of them. She describes meeting Charlo, her husband, falling in love with him, dating him, life with him, until he turned abusive. She describes the abuse too, with such sincerity that one feels like they're being confided into by a real person instead of reading a character's story in a book. I loved the way Doyle could reach to me through Paula's character.And not once does it feel like she is aiming for pity or sympathy. The voice that she takes is distanced, in retrospect, and she lists out her faults as well, and remains true to the narrative. In the end, she kicks her husband put after seeing him as a direct threat to her daughter, and it is a poignant end. The ruminations she has about her life, the death of her husband, the abuse she underwent, it's just brilliant and a really great book that needs to be read!

  • Ian Wood
    2019-01-28 01:05

    The Barrytown trilogy and ‘Paddy Clark, Ha, Ha, Ha’ were the greatest feel good comedies to come out of Ireland and ‘The Van’ and ‘Paddy Clark, Ha, Ha, Ha’ were respectively and justifiably nominated for and awarded the Booker Prize. So the question was where next? Roddy didn’t leave Barrytown for his next project but showed us it’s seedier underbelly in the dark and harrowing TV show ‘Family’. This introduced us to the Spencer family with its domestic violence and abuse. Each episode focussed on a member of the family, Charlo, John-Paul, Leanne and Paula ‘The Woman Who Walked into Doors.’Although grim ‘Family’ didn’t quite prepare us for ‘The Woman Who Walked into Doors’ which was quite a departure for Roddy. As with ‘Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha’ the book is written in the first person and again the form was a complete success with Paula’s voice being totally convincing. That Paddy Clarke, a ten year old boy, could be brought to life by a middle aged man was a testament to Roddy Doyle’s talent but that he could give voice to an alcoholic working class woman in an abusive relationship is quite unbelievable. Literature is littered with talented male writers who’s writing of women parts is two dimensional and unconvincing, so to tackle this is the first person and with such emotive subject matter was a huge risk. Fortunately it succeeded and the book is a triumph as indeed in Paula’s part in the battle of life.The story works well within the form switching from childhood, adolescence and different stages of the marriage to allow the reader to piece the story together but still not prepare them for the ending of the book. I was so impressed with this form that when I decided on the subject matter of my own novel I used it as the template to tell a very different story.When I first read ‘The Woman Who Walked into Doors’ I didn’t know how Roddy Doyle could follow ‘Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha’, I certainly had no idea it would be possible to better it.

  • Gwen Bartlett
    2019-01-21 18:19

    Not an easy book to read. The story of a woman who is abused, becomes an alcoholic. She finally attacks her husband and makes him leave. He eventually kills a woman and is shot by the police. Very depressing.

  • Faith
    2019-02-07 00:26

    The woman who walked into doors - Paula Spencer, who was married for 18 years to Charlo Spencer, who she threw out and who killed a woman and who was shot by the Guards... Paula loves Charlo and doesn't. In the book Paula looks back at her past. We find out the truth about the relationship between her and Charlo little by little. Roddy Doyle is an expert on creating sympathetic characters. Paula too is sympathetic, even thou she is an alcoholic and a woman with a lot of problems, a woman who has failed in many ways. But Doyle has also proved that sympathetic characters don't always make a book. I never managed to finish his "A Star Called Henry" even thou I liked the characters... The book just felt too terrible and brutal, and to me uninteresting, touch to read. But "The Woman..." obviously had something more than a sympathetic and real character. Some brutal realism here too, but... it's very readable. There's a normal (Irish) woman behind it after all. And it's not the woman who's being brutal anyway. There's something in how the story is told too. It feels so real. Very real. It really gets to u. Roddy Doyle is great, he can write about anything. I guess I should have finished "A Star Called Henry", even thou Henry became a killer. That might have been interesting after all. Doyle probably managed to make it so, and I should have read it and not hated it.

  • Anita Dalton
    2019-01-18 17:26

    Doyle understands that life might have a moment wherein a paralyzed person is suddenly capable of action, but that a moment of clarity does not a changed life make. Doyle shows the arc of Paula’s life as she gradually loses more and more innocence, slowly becomes more and more broken. This novel, better than any novel I have read in recent memory, tells the story of how men defined the world of women, from their actions to their words, and how hard it is to overcome such intrusive beginnings.This is a book wherein lines and sometimes entire sections resonated deeply with me. Paula’s life was one spent in a world where men acted inappropriately, where men did not protect girls and actively harmed them in some cases, where people blamed women for getting beat up, where even fathers who never physically harmed their children cannot be trusted emotionally. This book was mostly amazing because Doyle shows how a character can hold a multitude of feelings, opinions that can seem contradictory, yet ring very true nonetheless. Doyle’s ability to show the multitudes within Paula shows him as a keen observer of human nature and a fine writer, able to accurately convey complex emotions with the beauty of an accomplished story teller yet with complete honesty. Read my entire review here.

  • Michael
    2019-01-31 19:25

    Very vibrant rendering of the interior landscape of a working class woman in Dublin in the 90�s. From the perspective of age 39, Paula tells her current story, working on a poverty income as a cleaning woman, raising three children, and recovering from the death of her estranged husband, while constantly reflecting on memories that chart her progression from childhood. With much empathy and humor, Doyle does an outstanding job of portraying how she taps the well of energies, budding sexuality, and liberating independence from her adolescence. The remembered dialog with friends and her large family from her youth is often exhilarating, something Doyle always excels at. The inaccuracy of memories is a bit of a theme in her ponderings, which especially comes up when her hopes to cherish loving relations are clouded or contradicted by abuse of one form or another or actions impaired by alcohol. Though the title of the book, and many sketches or blurbs about the book, might indicate that the novel is �about domestic violence�, the dark parts of the tale do not overwhelm the portrayal of the fervent life and soul of Paula.