George V. Reilly

Review: Paula Spencer

Paula Spencer
Title: Paula Spencer
Author: Roddy Doyle
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Viking
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 288
Keywords: fiction
Reading period: 2-11 November, 2007

Roddy Doyle has visited Paula Spencer twice before. First in The Family, a BBC TV serial; then in The Woman Who Walked into Doors. Ten years on from the last book, Paula is a recovering alcoholic who only recently crawled out of the bottle. The boom years of the Celtic Tiger have passed her by: Paula continues to clean Dublin offices and houses for a living. Her youngest two children are still at home. Jack is fine but Leanne is heading towards alcoholism herself. Her other son, John Paul, is estranged and a former heroin junkie, and her oldest, Nicola, worries about her.

Paula is pulling herself together, but it’s not easy. She is emo­tion­al­ly volatile and insecure, afraid of being rejected by her children, and sometimes only a hairs­breadth away from taking another drink. But she hasn’t lost her sense of humor. She’s a sym­pa­thet­ic character, not a whinger.

This is vintage Roddy Doyle and it’s both very funny and emo­tion­al­ly true, an unsparing but af­fec­tion­ate portrait of a flawed heroine.


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