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The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy…
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The Woman Who Walked into Doors (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Roddy Doyle

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1,907415,488 (3.77)99
Member:donutage
Title:The Woman Who Walked into Doors
Authors:Roddy Doyle
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (1997), Paperback
Collections:Moorestown
Rating:***
Tags:irish, novel, 20c, fiction, Dublin

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The Woman who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle (1996)

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English (38)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
This is a powerful book -- a character study of an alcoholic woman looking back on her life upon learning of the violent death of her husband, Charlo. She had kicked Charlo out a year earlier, after seventeen years of serious abuse. Paula tries to understand how Charlo could have hit her that first time, and why she believed, and continued to believe despite escalating violence, that everything would be all right. We see both Paula's strengths and weaknesses, her relationships with Charlo, her sisters and her children. Her voice is strong and this book is so well written. Life is seldom easy and everyone has a story -- Paula's will move you. ( )
  LynnB | Aug 21, 2019 |
This is the mesmerizing, powerful and vicious story of an alcoholic, abused housewife in Dublin. The depth of emotion in the story is impressive. The pace and dialogue were spot-on. I've known more than one battered woman, and the main character in this story captures the strength and the terror of that situation.

Very powerful novel, highly recommended, though it's not enjoyable due to its subject matter. It's not over-dramatized; it's simply in-your-face realism. ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
In the face of her abusive husband's violent death, 39-year-old Paula Spencer mentally processes her life, hoping to make some sense of it, trying to hold on to the illusion of normalcy she has fostered for nearly 20 years. Everything we see takes place in Paula's head; this is stream of consciousness on a very approachable level. As she moves back and forth through her teen years, her early married life and her present circumstances, her perception of reality is challenged, her memories boiling up so that the ones she prefers to suppress keep rising to the surface, confirming some of the reader's suspicions about what she may be hiding from herself, and yet surprising us too with some less obvious conclusions. It's only brilliant. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Sep 5, 2018 |
How is a self destroyed? Why? And how is it restored? That seems to be the question Doyle asks.

The confused pregnant 20 years old child Paula does not believe that Charlo´s first hit meant something - It is so outside what she would do, that she doesn't quite believe in it as a fact. Or if it is a fact - surely she must have provoked - he cannot act like that just because he can? Because it gives him a power-kick? What normal person can believe in violence out of the blue - from your lover, the father of your child - to be his most characteristic trait?

Superficially it is the story of the husband who maltreats his wife: Charlo hits, kicks, breaks and burns Paula for 17 years. But the book uses few only a few - and late - pages on describing the actual physical violence. The real theme is Paula´s slow awakening process - her way out of hell, how she thinks, verbalizes and thereby reflects herself to herself in a way no-one - few - her first teacher and her mother in glimpses - has done, as a capable responsible woman who can stand up for herself.

Roddy Doyle does not choose such a simple solution as to pinpoint Charlo as "The Evil Protagonist". Nor does he let Paula come across as a stupid, alcoholic woman who chooses to stay, taking punishment for 17 years. The door Paula walks into is not Charlo - Charlo is evil, but evil in the form of one person does not get power unless supported by many. Charlo stays for 17 years because he is only the last and most vicious mirror, the last in a long row of persons who brainwashes Paula to take responsibility for the malpractice she is treated by. The malign mirror of her as a punchbag has deep roots; None has mirrored her as a human being worthy respect: Her father calls her "slut" just for growing up. When her teacher stepped over physical boundaries, she once more learned that the one she depended on had (took) the right to defile. "There was nothing exciting about it , a grown-up man feeling me, feeling me while he was correcting my mistakes". Dad, teacher, brother and cousin all paved the way for Charlo: "Waters and his wandering thumb and Dillon with his wandering snot made me feel filthy; There was something about me that drew them to me: It was my tits that I was too young for; I´d no right to tem. It was my hair. It was my legs and my arms and my neck. There were things about me that were wrong and dirty. I thought it then; I felt it.... I was a dirty slut in some way that I didn't´t understand and couldn't´t control; I made men and boys do things." and "I wasn´t the only one. It happened to all of us. We went in children and we turned into animals".

So when Charlo takes the maltreatment to new heights, she hasn't any experience but the feeling that something is wrong with her to meet it with - for how can dad, brother, teacher and now husband all be wrong? Charlo´s malign reflection of Paula as a worthless nobody is supported by the best: "The doctor never looked at me. He studied parts of me but never looked me in the eye" - by anyone and everyone she meets -: "I could answer the door, I could get on the train. I could go to the shops. And no-one saw me.etc etc etc I could see all these people, but they could´t see me." And for no other reason than exercising the blind animal power of the non-thinking: "Laughing at me. The woman who walked into doors. They didn't´t wink at each other because they didn't´t have to". Non could see her for what she is - she only learns who she is the moment she becomes an onlooker: When Charlo turns his eye on her daughter, she finally recognizes the hate - "But it was sheer hate. It was clear in his face. He wanted to ruin her, to kill her. His own daughter." And then she acts. She does not become a malign mirror for her daughter - teaching her to take it - From dad ... brother ... by turning a blind eye.

It´s Doyle´s attack on a vicious system, kept up by the best. It is also a curious apology for the Church: "One thing for certain: I wouldn't´t have done it if I´d gone to the Holy Rosary.
  Mikalina | Feb 28, 2018 |
Immersive character study with a strong voice. Fairly depressing, but not desperate. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
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At the age of 37 -
She realised she'd never ride -
through Paris -
In a sports car -
With the warm wind in her hair -

Shel Silverstein,
The Ballad of Lucy Jordan
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This book is dedicated to Jack
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I was told by a Guard who came to the door.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140255125, Paperback)

Roddy Doyle follows Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, winner of the Booker Prize, and The Commitments with another remarkable book that readers will find funny, sexy, and sad. He takes an unflinching look at the life of Paula Spencer as she struggles to regain her dignity after marriage to an abusive husband and a worsening drinking problem. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

From the Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, the heartrending story of a brave and tenacious housewife  Look for Roddy Doyle's new novel, Smile, coming in October of 2017 Paula Spencer is a thirty-nine-year-old working-class woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after marriage to an abusive husband and a worsening drinking problem. Paula recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo, and the marriage to him that left her feeling powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Roddy Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.

» see all 10 descriptions

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