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.)
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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 SegedinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved