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Blow Your House Down

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  298 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Virago's distinguished Modern Classics series is dedicated to the celebration of women writers of the 19th and 20th centuries and to the rediscovery and reprinting of their work.
Paperback, 180 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by Little, Brown Book Group-Virago Modern Classics (first published 1984)
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Feb 26, 2017 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: virago
This is one of Pat Barker’s earlier novels written early in the 1980s. Barker does not shy away from difficult subjects and tackles two in this novel and takes an essentially Marxist approach to her subjects. It is set in the North-East of England and centres on the lives of a group of prostitutes and their lives. There is another aspect to the backdrop; there is a serial killer at work who is killing prostitutes (this is based on the Yorkshire Ripper murders). In other hands this sounds like th ...more
Bill Khaemba
Devastatingly Tragic and just beautiful

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""you don't give it up love," said Annie. "It gives you up."

… I am at loss for words at what I just experienced. I feel like In have journeyed through the story for a month but I just whizzed through this in one sitting. I am officially a fan of Pat Barker’s work and I need more… She managed to pull me into the world of Prostitution as she explores similar themes that affect women just like her other book Union street (Review Here) (which I highly reco
A grim and gritty read. The effect a serial killer has on a small, under resourced town in England. The main characters depicted here are "ladies of the night" who for various reasons, walk the deserted streets at night. Couldn't call this story an uplifting one by any means. The women here take the only course open to them at the time, many are abandoned women with children who take up the profession to keep body and soul together and to pay the rent. It's a seedy, dark, dangerous existence. Th ...more
Jan 18, 2017 Fahimeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trauma
The story of a traumatized community in which women from different backgrounds deal with the horrors of a serial killer haunting the community and how these murders influence their lives by experiencing the trauma directly or indirectly. I like how she makes it the story of the whole community and not one individual character despite the darkness hovering all over the narrative. All share the trauma one way or another.
Dec 09, 2010 Kaylol rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern, fiction
Can't say I liked it but that does not mean it's not good.
Cerys Jones
Great portrait of the sadness and bleakness of prostitution along with an initially gripping storyline. Felt the book lost itself in the final section but nevertheless a good read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Set in a rundown northern town, this short but dense, bleak yet gripping novel exposes the lives of a disparate group of working class prostitutes trying to contain their rising fear over the mounting evidence of a serial killer, unprotected by the police who seem to using them as bait to trap him. Understandably haunted by the murder of her female lover, one of the women decides to take control and avenge her death, but can she be sure she has found the right man? Each of Pat Barker’s novels se ...more
Aug 29, 2011 Emma rated it it was ok
Set in a different era and with a vastly different cast of characters to Barker's more well known books, the 'Regeneration' Trilogy, 'Blow Your House Down is about a group of women who earn their money walking the streets. Even though their occupation is the same the women themselves are very different from each other and are 'on the game' for varying reasons. Readers of 'Union Street' will recognise this style of writing from Barker but having been introduced to her through the 'Regeneration' t ...more
Andrew Cox
Dec 23, 2016 Andrew Cox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pat Barker is just brilliant. This is mainly a very bleak book about the hardships of living in the North East in poverty. It is about prostitution and surviving in the face of the threat of a killer who kills prostitutes. The horror is not hidden. The violence & sexual descriptions are vivid & real & unpleasant. The language is realistic. It is a wonderful depiction of a very hard life for women. It is also about love & compassion & community.

I thought I had read all of her
Rachael Eyre
May 18, 2014 Rachael Eyre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is closer to her early books than the brilliant Regeneration trilogy, but that's not to say it isn't good. The first book I've read with prostitutes as the (anti?) heroines, it helps us get inside the minds of these women and see why they made what might seem otherwise repellent choices. We even see the killer's thoughts, which is unsettling to say the least.

Perhaps this is down to personal preference, but I wish we could have seen more of the love story between Jean and her girlfriend. Con
Chris Stanley
Aug 08, 2014 Chris Stanley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think the British public gives Pat Barker her due respect. There are not many writers who can take a book based on a notorious serial murderer and not make it a heart-pounding but ultimately empty read. But in this, written a few years after the Yorkshire Ripper was finally caught, Barker finds a stoic yet fragile sense of kinship among his chief targets, namely prostitutes.

It's not a subject you would want to read about on a beach holiday, but Barker largely ignores the spectre of murde
Apr 17, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not too long ago I realized that I've been reading mostly men authors. At the same time, I read an article in the New Yorker about Pat Barker, and English author, whose written several books focused on women's lives as well as books that wrestle with the plight of men. So I chose this book in particular because it was the only book they had available at the library. Overall, I guess I liked it...there was a lot of English slang that I didn't get at times, but I got the gist of the story: women l ...more
Oct 12, 2014 Yve-Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gritty story set in the 1980's (I presume, as this was when the book was first published) following the lives of a group of women living under the shadow of the Yorkshire Ripper killings of the 80's. The women are mainly prostitutes who have chosen this life as the best way to make the money they need to survive (it's that or working in the bloody chicken factory). While the women worry about the killings of prostitutes by the Ripper, a killer stalks them in their own territory causing a gener ...more
Jun 22, 2013 Geraldine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a difficult read because the subject matter is harrowing but I thought it dealt with the subject very well. I liked the way the world (a very constrained world) was seen through the eyes of the women and I liked the non-judgemental feel to the novel. It seemed to me that 2 of the women in the book ended up with PTSD which is not something I have come across in novels before, that I'm aware of. The relationships between the women were very encouraging really - it's not often in literatur ...more
Uthpala Dassanayake
Blow Your House Down is another great work by Pat Baker. Writing is skillful as always.
This time it is prostitutes’ story. Some were forced into the situation under circumstances, some are there for easy good money, and some because that’s what they want. Only thing common in them is their profession. Each of them has their own characters, values, plans, reasons and their own set of problems. Then they all get a common threat, a murderer of prostitutes.
I liked the story, but towards the end it
Guy Salvidge
This is similar in tenor to Barker's debut, Union Street, although in general I feel this to be an inferior work. It starts strongly enough but the narrative peters out about three-quarters of the way through, with the murderer unexpectedly slain. Then there's a long coda. Pretty soon I'll have read all of Pat Barker's novels (I have three to go), but Blow Your House Down isn't one I'll be returning to anytime soon.
Aug 24, 2008 Joanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after liking "Union Street" by Barker. This is a novel, not a collection of stories so that alone made it somewhat better. Barker once again writes about the darker, dingier side of London, this time writing about a series of murders involving hookers. There is this one scene about a woman getting mugged and knocked to the ground and losing her teeth that I will never, ever forget, it makes my teeth ache just thinking about it.
Gareth Evans
Sep 09, 2011 Gareth Evans rated it liked it
It's grim up north -as it is in Pat Barker's other early novels. As usual it's graphic stuff - not for the prudish or faint-hearted. Like the her other early novels, this is somewhat episodic, and in my view somewhat less effective. A promising start gets somewhat diluted by a change in narrator later on. Nevertheless a interesting and uncompromising piece.
Jun 15, 2012 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about a group of prostitutes who are being stalked by a serial killer. Barker captures the these women with realistic portrayals of their lives (both on and off the street) and dialog that rings true--even if you have never heard or spoken the language of prostitutes. It is very dark, has a few dappled scenes and very few light ones.
Jun 21, 2013 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, but I prefer Pat Barker's WWI work. Though I think this is her first novel (or one of her first), so some allowances can be made.
Aug 04, 2016 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and chilling novel about the lives of prostitutes in Yorkshire while a killer is roaming the streets. Tough stuff.
This is probably a 2.5 star read for me. The first 3/4 of the book was engrossing. The last quarter was a bit confusing. I didn't want to leave the characters I had already met.
Powerful and gripping.
Charlie Clark
Jan 18, 2015 Charlie Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chaz
Very good book
Shirley Wells
Mar 19, 2011 Shirley Wells rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, dark tale that follows the lives of prostitutes when a killer is on the loose.
Oct 15, 2008 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pat Barker at her ugliest is still a fine writer. But man, is this one ugly.
Alexandra rated it liked it
Oct 13, 2010
Deb rated it really liked it
Oct 22, 2012
June rated it liked it
Apr 20, 2012
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Pat Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics.

Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy Regeneration ; The Eye in the Door , winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road , winner of the Booker Prize; as well as seven other novels. Pat Barker is married and lives in
More about Pat Barker...

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