Matt Thorne

Drying Out

Paula Spencer: A Novel

By

Jonathan Cape 277pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Roddy Doyle’s last two novels, A Star Called Henry (1999) and Oh, Play That Thing (2004) were part of an entertaining, if somewhat ramshackle, sequence entitled The Last Roundup. For the moment at least, that sequence is on hold, as Doyle instead returns to an earlier novel, 1996’s highly acclaimed The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. Written at the height of his fame, after winning the Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha (1993) and several successful film adaptations of his work, including Alan Parker’s The Commitments, it was regarded at the time as the best of his novels. The novel followed the adolescence and young adulthood of Paula O’Leary, an alcoholic house-cleaner trying to survive in a Dublin suburb after her marriage to Charles (Charlo) Spencer, a violent criminal who impressed her by eating chips out of her knickers before subjecting her to endless physical abuse. 

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