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Paula Spencer Hardcover – December 28, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670038164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670038169
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,993,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Surviving an abusive marriage was an enormous triumph for Dublin housewife Paula Spencer. Her frequent beatings by husband Charlo, coupled with the alcohol she consumed to dull the pain, left her life a black hole of misery and degradation, which she recounted in her own voice in The Woman Who Walked into Doors (1996). Ten years later, Doyle resurrects his heroine. Now recently sober and trying to maintain some semblance of normality in her family life, Paula fights battles that are small, but the stakes are extremely high. Be it just trying to ask her daughter what time she came home last night or tousle her son's hair, after her ignoble history, every act is loaded with significance. Nicola, Paula's eldest, took on many of the maternal roles Paula was incapable of doing herself. Now, the ever-present guilt and the constant need for a drink plague her. How can she regain parental authority? Will her children ever trust her again? Doyle is masterful at setting up the battles as Paula takes each day at a time. His dialogue, thick with Dublinese, expertly evokes the working-class Irish milieu. Although the third-person narration will make some readers miss Paula's voice, this is Paula's story--and it's grand. Benjamin Segedin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
I would highly recommend it to any adult.
His depictions of the details of a life in recovery are honest and genuine without banality and self-pity.
Evelyn A. Getchell
We're stuck in Paula's head for the length of this novel--an amazing place to be stuck.
Jessica Anya Blau, author, THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Lawrence on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My God, but this is a gorgeous book. Doyle is completely inside the mind and soul of this woman. Yes, Paula Spencer had a awful life with an abusive husband and her own alcoholism. But what Doyle does so gloriously is show this woman coming to life, being reborn and seeing the world anew as the fog of her addiction lifts day by day, wisp by wisp. What's revealed is an intelligent, discerning woman with a streak of humor that saves her (and the reader) time and again. Part of her re-birth is connecting with ther four children, learning what it means to be a Mom. The pages where she's urging Jack, her wary 16 year old, to take some homemade soup is as beautiful as any fiction I've read in years.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Werts on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Roddy Doyle is probably my favorite contemporary author. Time and again, he's been able to capture the essence of Irish life. "The Woman who Walked into Doors," this novel's prequel, presented a battered Paula Spencer living in the Celtic Tiger period of the 90s.

I am an American who lived in Ireland during the time "Paula Spencer" takes place, and I can't tell you how amazingly-well Doyle captures Ireland at this moment in time. Eastern Europeans are entering the country in droves, everybody's text-messaging, and it's a completely different Ireland from the one ten years ago. I even remember the little boy he talks about who went missing in Cork. That story was all over the news when I was there.

Backdrop aside, Doyle continues to be a master of character development. I feel as if I know Paula Spencer intimately, and I constantly have to remind myself this novel was written by a man.

In short, Roddy Doyle is a genius!
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Format: Hardcover
Continuing the story of Paula Spencer, the main character in his 1997 novel, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle focuses on a survivor of horrific spousal abuse, a woman who has been on her own now for twelve years, and whose husband Charlo has been dead for eleven of those years. For this entire period, however, Paula has been lost in a fog of alcohol, and her eldest daughter Nicola has been the "mother" of the family and Paula's own caretaker.

As the novel opens, Paula has been sober for four months, and as we watch the unfolding of her life for most of the ensuing year, we see every detail of her struggle to become responsible for the family and regain their trust. All the family has problems. Nicola, now married, was forced to be "mother" of the family while still a child herself; her brother John Paul, became addicted to heroin at age fourteen and ran away; Leanne, now twenty-two, lives at home, an alcoholic; and Jack, nearly sixteen, is closed off from his mother.

The novel, almost plotless, is an intense study of Paula's growth as she goes through the business of living an "ordinary" life--cleaning houses by day and offices by night, fretting about money and her need for a new coat, doing the family wash and making soup, visiting her senile mother, saving for a computer for Jack, and, most importantly, staying off alcohol. As Doyle takes us step by painful step through Paula's mundane reality, we see her slowly growing and taking control for the first time since her marriage. As she gains confidence, she works to reconnect with her sisters, form new relationships, and, clumsily, to become a real mother.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A couple of other reviewers have told what story there is to this novel,so I won't try to enlarge on it.
Really,there is not much story at all.What we see; is what life is like to a woman who has not have an easy time of it ;and that is an under statement.
Paula,is now 48,and she has lived what should have been the best years of her life,and we are taken right into her heart and soul for a year or so.
It is not pretty,but Paula is not defeated by remorse or even worrying about why her lot is what it is. All she wants to do is "get along" and even the least amount of joy she is able to have,she is thankful for. Though she is never envious of others,and she has every reason to be, she takes each day as it comes.Will tomorrow be better? Who knows,Paula now lives her life, entwined with her few close friends and disfunctional family,one day at a time.Despite it all,she hasn't an enemy in the world.She doesn't even carry a bit of hatred in her heart for her now dead abusive ex-husband.
No doubt,Doyle shows what a life some people lead.Of course,many women's lot in life is worse than Paula's and many's lot is better.But this is Paula's .There is always hope,and without that ,what is there to live for?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Doro on January 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am so sorry I've finished this book already and long for the sequel: Can Paula make it with a birdwatcher? Every little detail was perfect and the story about ACOAs is pathetic but brave. No one else has described so well the feelings of the recovering alcoholic (as a mother) or anyone who has escaped an abusive relationship (as a mother). The guilt, the sudden feelings of great happiness over nothing more than a ray of sunshine but..."selection boxes" what are they? And White Sripes? there are other inscrutable itemes as well that you have to be Irish to know what the heck they are.
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More About the Author

Roddy Doyle is the author of eight novels, a collection of stories, and Rory & Ita, a memoir of his parents. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. He lives and works in Dublin.

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