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The Days of Paula Spencer
on 26 February 2007
Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958 and saw his first novel, "The Commitments" published in 1987. It was later adapted for the big screen, a version that saw Star Trek's Colm Meaney and a very young Andrea Corr among the cast. Doyle went on to win the Booker Prize in 1993 with "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha". This is his sixth novel and was first published in 1996.
"The Woman Who Walked Into Doors" is set in Dublin and is told by Paula Spencer, a woman in her late thirties. Both Paula's parents are dead, while only two of her siblings `appear' in the book - her sisters, Carmel and Denise. She did have another sister, Wendy, who died in a motorbike accident, while her brothers - Roger, Edward and George - are only ever mentioned in passing. Paula's relationship with her father had once been good, though it seemed to have deteriorated as time went on. [...]. Paula, meanwhile, hasn't Roger in years, and isn't particularly bothered about it - theirs was another difficult relationship.
However, it's Paula's relationship with her husband, Charlo, that's central to the book. They have been separated for over a year as the book opens - though they are still technically, married. They couple had four children together, three of whom still live with Paula. (She hasn't seen her eldest son, John-Paul, in quite some time: she last heard of him squatting in some flats and suspects he's on heroin). She works as a cleaner, just about earns enough to make ends meet and is an alcoholic. As if all that isn't enough, the book opens with the arrival of a policeman at her front door to inform her of Charlo's death. Paula spends the book looking back over her life in general and her time with Charlo in particular.
While it isn't always a very cheerful book, Paula's story isn't one that will leave you feeling depressed. She proves to be a character you want the best for and, not only does she manage to raise a smile from time to time, she also manages to leave you with a bit of hope. Absolutely recommended.