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The Woman who Walked into Doors (1996)

by Roddy Doyle

Series: Paula Spencer (1)

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2,087436,027 (3.78)104
This is the heart-rending story of a woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after a violent, abusive marriage and a worsening drink problem. Paula Spencer 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 powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.… (more)
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» See also 104 mentions

English (40)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
DO NOT read this book. Not if you've been a victim of domestic abuse. Not unless you can live under smothering apprehension and depression. Not if you don't want to live through Doyle's book which is so well-written you feel you've suffered the whole 17 years Paula was with her husband in only 188 pages. The writing mirrors the angst of the woman in the story. Staccato sentences filled with self-loathing and delusion. I actually had to quit reading for about a month before I could finish. Powerful. Awful. Great writing. ( )
  SusanWallace | Jul 10, 2021 |
This was my first novel from this author, and though the plot was simple, the struggles of average people were palpable. The story was genuine and I really felt empathic to the narrator’s struggles. However, towards the end, I did find myself becoming a little impatient with Paula’s constant excuses and lack of actions. I guess that goes to show how our individual struggles are sometimes our own making…and resolving. ( )
  RoxieT | Nov 9, 2019 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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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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This is the heart-rending story of a woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after a violent, abusive marriage and a worsening drink problem. Paula Spencer 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 powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.

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