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Slammerkin Paperback – 3 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844087344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844087341
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

"Strangers might remember a trip to Monmouth to see a girl hang, but who would spare a thought for the whos and hows and whys?" Mary Saunders asks herself on the way to the scaffold. Emma Donoghue has taken the scant facts of Mary's short life in the 1760s and given her heart, flesh, guts and humour in this fine tale. Mary, at 13, seduced by an impulse for a coloured ribbon, and dreams of silks and sashes--as well as longings to better herself--becomes a slammerkin, a loose woman, in the roil of Hogarthian London. Her friend and mentor into the world of tricks is Doll who knows every inch of the city's high and low life. When Mary finds her dead, she flees to Monmouth and tries to reinvent herself as a servant girl. But the chafes of servitude and of "knowing her place" lead to a double life, a brutal murder, and her end at 16.

No rags to riches tale here, but nor does the author allow the brutal circumstances of Mary's life to swamp her colourful and richly textured narrative. Mary is full of spark and cheek; her eye is sharp to the hypocrisies of privilege and religion, her speech deliciously expresses her disdain for her "betters". Only occasionally does the narrative slip into too much telling at the expense of showing, and thus loses some of its emotional impact and pace.

That said, Emma Donoghue's gifts as a storyteller are considerable: her unsparing accounts of small and large events, a wealth of detail and a wonderfully rich and fluent language makes this a vivid and moving slice from the underbelly of 18th-century life.--Ruth Petrie --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Finding a language that inhabits but is in no way weighted down by its time, Donoghue has made of an 'obscure and brutal story' a compelling novel . . . and a brilliant historical variant on the 'girl about town.' "--THE FINANCIAL TIMES (London)

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First Sentence
THE RIBBON had been bright scarlet when Mary Saunders first laid eyes on it, back in London. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 Nov 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the kind of book that you get so immersed in, that I missed my stop while reading it on the bus!
Emma Donoghue writes as if she had walked the streets of 18th century London and Monmouth and seen it first hand. I work in the Charing Cross area where the first part of the book is set, and while wandering around I found myself imagining life as it happened back then, looking for clues of the London of old, seeing things through Mary Saunders eyes.
It is a tragic tale, and the fact that it is based on a true story and interweaves real people's lives makes it all the more spooky and believable.
I would recommend it to anyone!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By DV8 Diva on 27 Sep 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I read it a few years ago and it is one that I return to periodically and re-read, and I enjoy it each time.
So I am delighted to find it available as a Kindle book.
The character of 'Mary', the female protagonist, is not a likeable one at all.She is conniving, cunning and ultimately a criminal, but she is very much a product of her time.She follows the path that Life has decided she must follow to the bitter end. It is not a happy book and some readers may find the downward spiral of Mary's short life depressing- but Emma Donoghue has created a fascinating character, supported by other vividly drawn portraits.Georgian England is a lonely purgatory for people who slip through Society's net, as does Mary.I liked the character of 'Doll',the irrepressible prostitute,the best of all. Sharp, sad, hilarious in parts,dark.Read it!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jacq Russell on 28 Sep 2004
Format: Paperback
The kind of book you can't put down -- and the kind you're upset is over. It leaves you fighting with yourself over a sense of "fairness" that is missed in these stories (and that's probably the point).
Mary's story is one of a girl born possibly in the wrong time and place, a woman who wanted more than life could ever give her in her time.
A definite must-read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Dec 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a well written, artfully told tale of a young, working class, teenage girl, Mary Saunders, in eighteenth century London, England, who, through a moment's exercise in bad judgment, found herself turned out of the only home she had ever known by her own mother. Her desperation to survive saw her ushered into a life of prostitution and servitude. Based upon the actual, brief but notorious, life of a certain Mary Saunders, a servant girl who killed her mistress and was executed for her crime in England in 1764, it is a fascinating, historical tapestry, woven out of the few known threads of a misbegotten life.
Here, Mary Saunders is cast as an unsophisticated, thirteen year old, who, as many young girls are wont to do, desired pretty fripperies. One day, she coveted a red ribbon, and her desire for it would ultimately cost her dearly. Tossed out of her home by her mother, when her indiscretion became evident, Mary found herself immersed in the underbelly of London, surviving as only a poor, but pretty, young girl could in eighteenth century London. Turning to prostitution, she descended into a life that heralded both her independence and her personal degradation.
The fates ultimately conspired to have Mary leave London for Monmouth, the birthplace of her mother. There she arranged to meet with one of her mother's childhood friends, Mrs. Jones. Giving her a sob story, Mary initially preyed upon Mrs. Jones' tender sensibilities, and she was hired as a sort of servant, but with favored status due to her being Mrs. Jones' old friend's daughter.
While there, Mary, now sixteen, was torn between her surprising contentment with her new found role and her desire to return to the excitement of London.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 July 2001
Format: Paperback
I purchased "Slammerkin" at Gatwick Airport a couple of weeks ago. Although I am not a historical novel fan I thought this book might be a bit different than the usual offerings and I was pleasantly surprised. This books follows the story of Mary Saunders, a girl in the 18th century who ends up prostituting herself to obtain the finer things in life and although she should be quite unlikeable, you can't help but empathaise with her. I particularly like Emma Donoghue's attention to detail of day to day life in Britain during the 18th century as well as the richly described characters who almost come to life right off the pages. Most enjoyable and highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By VdlC on 7 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I read the sample for this book after falling in love with "Room", I thought "oh, yes, I am going to like this". I bought it straight away, read the first few pages... and put it down for a couple of weeks. They were so upsetting I couldn't stand it. But then I went back to it and started loving the book, I couldn't put it down and then, with the second part I realised I was... bored! It starts great but then it trails off and the second part really is boring and random and pointless but the end is quite ok, I guess.
So, I can't say I didn't like it, and I won't say it's a bad book, since it's brilliantly written, but I guess the second part spoiled it for me.
Love Emma Donoghue and will continue reading her work, though. She is an amazing writer.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "slayers_gift" on 13 Jan 2003
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book immensely. It seemed a tragic story. Losing virtue at a tender age. So innocent. But Mary amazed me with her stength. She learned well and fast and was a powerful young women through and through. I never sensed that she truly lost who she felt she was. It always managed to break through her facade. The story felt so real and opened my eyes to what London was like in the 1760s. If I think about it, London hasn't really changed much.
This book opened my mind, I strongly advise reading it.
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