Matt Thorne

Drying Out

Paula Spencer: A Novel


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. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,