When we first met Paula Spencer - in "The Woman Who Walked into Doors" - she was thirty-nine, recently widowed, an alcoholic struggling to hold her family together. "Paula Spencer" begins on the eve of Paula's forty-ninth birthday. She hasn't had a drink for four months and five days. Her youngest children, Jack and Leanne, are still living with ...
When we first met Paula Spencer - in "The Woman Who Walked into Doors" - she was thirty-nine, recently widowed, an alcoholic struggling to hold her family together. "Paula Spencer" begins on the eve of Paula's forty-ninth birthday. She hasn't had a drink for four months and five days. Her youngest children, Jack and Leanne, are still living with her. They're grand kids, but she worries about Leanne. Paula still works as a cleaner, but all the others doing the job now seem to come from Eastern Europe, and the checkout girls in the supermarket are Nigerian. You can get a cappuccino in the cafe, and her sister Carmel is thinking of buying a holiday home in Bulgaria. Paula's got four grandchildren now; two of them are called Marcus and Sapphire. Reviewing "The Woman Who Walked into Doors", Mary Gordon wrote: "It is the triumph of this novel that Mr Doyle - entirely without condescension - shows the inner life of this battered house-cleaner to be the same stuff as that of the heroes of the great novels of Europe." Her words hold true for this new novel. "Paula Spencer" is brave, tenacious and very funny. The novel that bears her name is another triumph for Roddy Doyle.
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-10-16 The heroine of Doyle's 1996 bestseller, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, returns long widowed (abusive husband Charlo having been killed fleeing the Irish police) and four months sober. Those absences and old relationships mark the year we follow in Paula's new life: she worries that her daughter, Leanne, is following in her footsteps; negotiates her resentment of her bossy older daughter, Nicola; and reconciles with her son, John Paul, now a recovering heroin addict with two kids of his own. Doyle, Booker Winner for Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha and author of The Commitments, does a lot in this novel by doing little: it is John Paul's quiet distance, for example, that serves as a constant reminder of the horrendous mother and pitiful alcoholic Paula used to be. The newfound prosperity of Ireland affects Paula's day-to-day life on the bottom of the economic scale which suddenly looks a lot different. Paula's inner life lacks subtler shades, and her outer life is full of tiring work, abstinence from liquor and family. These aren't elements that automatically make for a have-to-read novel, but in this wholly and vividly imagined case, they do. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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