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Paula Spencer

Ting Mikyunyu

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‘Paula Spencer’ by Roddy Doyle is the second novel featuring this character. The first novel is ‘The Woman Who Walked Into Doors’, which I have not read, but that doesn’t seem to matter as we get a good amount of backstory this time around.

Paula Spencer is a 48-year-old recovering alcoholic, mother of four, sister to two sisters, and she is carrying a load of guilt about her alcoholism and how she feels it still affects everyone around her. It didn’t help that her now dead husband battered her severely in front of the children, so that too adds to her guilt. What really terrifies her is that her youngest son and daughter who are both still living at home may go off the rails themselves - take after her or worse.


The story is written so that we are with Paula, in her head, as well as in her physical world. This technique gives us an opportunity to live her everyday struggles and triumphs with her.  At first I was not too keen on the very short sentences, but it keeps pace with the life Paula has to live: housework, commute, clean houses, commute, shop, home again, check on the kids. It also keeps us aware of how Paula has to live from minute to minute to beat her addiction.  But it’s the dialogue that lifts the story - the rapid-fire exchanges, with Paula's thoughts sometimes giving a lie to what she is saying.  And how she so often berates herself for saying something that could be misconstrued.

I would try another Roddy Doyle, but maybe not backtrack to ‘The Woman Who Walked Into Doors’ because of what I already know.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got around to reading this last month, excellent book. These were my thoughts on finishing.' I may have to read The Woman Who Walked into Doors again if I come across a copy. This was an excellent follow up. Roddy Doyle can say more with his concise dialogue than many others can say in multiple pages. Spencer is an encapsulating character, her life gives us glimpses of just how difficult life can be for victims of abuse and addiction without all tear jerking of some of the more melodramatic forms of biography. The humor and warmth of Doyle's writing always shines through.' Once again it's Doyle writing as a woman, had I not known I would never have guessed.


From The Woman Who Walked into Doors


'Ask me ask me ask me.'
'None of them looked at me.'
'None of them saw'
'They were all the same; they didn't want to know. They'ed never ask.
'Ask me.'

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