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Donoghue takes scraps of the intriguing true story of Mary Saunders, a servant girl who murdered her mistress in 1763, and fashions from them an intelligent and mesmerizing historical novel. Born to a mother who sews for pennies and a father who died in jail, 14-year-old Mary's hardened existence in London brings to mind the lives of Dickens's child characters. Mary has an eye for fine things and ambitions beyond her social station, and her desire for a shiny red ribbon leads her to sell the only thing she owns: her body. Turned out by her mother, Mary is taken in by a local prostitute, Doll Higgins; they live together in Rat's Castle in the seedy section of town. Doll teaches Mary the tricks of her trade and gives her all the gaudy dresses Mary once coveted. For a year, the term slammerkin meaning a loose gown or a loose woman becomes all too familiar to Mary, until she checks into a charity hospital and attempts to straighten out. Missing the "liberty" of her former life, she leaves the hospital only to encounter more trouble back on the streets. Fleeing to the country village of Monmouth, her parents' hometown, Mary finds Mrs. Jones, an old friend of her mother's, and obtains a maid's position in her household, but Mary can't shake her dark ambitions: she re-enters the flesh trade, bringing disaster upon herself. Readers may feel both sympathetic to and angry with Mary, who questions whether hers is the lot of all women, but whose anesthetized spirit leads to her rash action. Donoghue's characterizations are excellent, and her brutal imagery and attention to language capture the spirit of the time with vital precision. Agent, Caroline Davidson. (June)Forecast: The provocative jacket will catch readers' attention, but attentive handselling, perhaps helped by the author tour, will be required to distinguish this worthy historical novel from similar titles.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Slammerkin," an 18th-century term meaning a loose gown or loose woman, is a fitting title for Irish writer Donoghue's (Hood) third novel. Mary Saunders's mother scratches out a meager living as a seamstress in 1760s London, but Mary longs for a more luxurious life with fine ribbons and clothes. At 13, she sneers at her mother's suggestion that she take up the needle, then makes a fateful mistake that leads her into prostitution. On the street, the young woman indulges her fine tastes and lives an independent life. When illness forces her to seek help, she vows to reform her lifestyle. Mary flees to a tiny hamlet where she finds work as a maid and seamstress. In her new life, she discovers the comforts of a home and family. But she questions whether "honest" women are any freer than prostitutes and is unable to forget her former life and her need for autonomy a need that leads to violence. This eloquent and engrossing novel, rich in historical detail and based on an actual murder, raises numerous issues about a woman's station in society during this period. An ideal choice for book groups; recommended for all public and academic libraries. Karen T. Bilton, Cedar Mill Community Lib., Portland, OR
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Based on a true story, this book paints a picture of the lives and prospects of poor women in its times. Interesting social history woven into an engaging story.Published 16 days ago by Bjerkana
I went through a historical fiction phase during freshman year of high school, and I recall loving this racy read from an Irish ex-pat that explores the role sexuality and clothing... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Christin M. Mulligan
I thought this was a romance but turned out to be more like a biography. It felt like a true story and was sad till the end. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
This is my first time reading Emma Donahue, but it will not be my last. Captivating story and great charactersPublished 4 months ago by Natasha Calvert
In <i>Slammerkin</i> Emma Donoghue took a brief, sparse news article of a woman, Mary Saunders in the mid 1700's and turned it into a tale that transports us to the grime and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Archetype
While I found parts of this book intriguing and interesting, I felt, as a whole, it lacked something. For me, parts of this book just dragged. Read morePublished 6 months ago by luvs2read
Back to the land of the living......this book was fascinating. I would have liked a happy ending for Mary, a redemption was what I was hoping for, but nope, a grisly hanging after... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Stephanie Parry