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on 29 June 2017
This is historical fiction at it's finest - an account of the life of an 18th century child prostitute, in short an abused and troubled girl, from her days on the London streets to her period in service in the Welsh marches. Donoghue ensures that her characters are multi-faceted and judiciously avoids the sentimentality that would tempt a lesser writer in the telling of the tale. Highly recommended as a compulsive read, written by a most accomplished storyteller.
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on 18 November 2003
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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on 26 August 2017
Donoghue has a tendency to shove her social history research down your throat by making characters in her books say things people would not say to each other. This can be annoying and patronising. That said, she writes well and the stories ( which are usually based on real events) tend to crack along quite nicely. I was not prepared for the ending which is shocking..
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on 5 November 2012
If you like historical fiction from a female perspective, then this is perfect. Reminded me of Michael Faber or Sarah Waters.
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on 29 May 2017
Loved this book
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on 27 September 2011
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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on 16 May 2017
I couldn't put this down. It's raunchier and 'earthier' than my usual reads, but that seemed to fit with the depiction of Mary's life as a Victorian prostitute and reflects how she has known no other existence since her mid-teens. I was completely drawn in to her world and into the way she doesn't seem to be able to escape herself, even when given the chance of a new life. The historical detail gives the book such life and verve as do the vocabulary of the day and convincing speech. Yes, it's totally different from 'Room' but I think I'd have been disappointed otherwise. I'd rather a writer was diverse. And Donoghue's writing is so impressive - at any point when I caught myself skim-reading, I deliberately went back to the beginning of the paragraph in case I'd missed any brilliant writing, which I usually had. Not many authors can do that!
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on 7 July 2012
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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on 5 July 2001
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 January 2013
Absolutely compelling read set in 1760s London and Wales- so much so that I was looking up the places and the main character on the Internet.

Based around a true story of one Mary Saunders who came to grief through her longing for 'fine clothes', Donoghue has crafted an unputdownable novel. Mary's inability to accept the life on offer - as a seamstress or servant - cause her to break away from any settled situation in which she finds herself, for the better paid work as a prostitute. Nonetheless, she finds a kind of happiness living in Monmouth with nice Mrs Jones. Who could ever have predicted what would happen next?...

My third read by Emma Donoghue and they were all brilliant.
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