The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
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The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Paula Spencer #1)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  5,399 ratings  ·  366 reviews
Paula Spencer is a thirty-nine-year-old working-class woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after marriage to an abusive husband and a worsening drinking problem. Paula recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo, and the marriage to him that left her feeling powerless. Capturing both her vulnerabil...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Penguin Books (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

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I have given The Speech at least a hundred times. At least. The setting, the words, and sadly the result are essentially the same.

There is bustle all about. But I find the quietest room available. It’s me. And Her. And a cop or a counselor.

It’s not always the same HER, of course. But some are repeaters. Those ones have heard The Speech before, but they act as if they haven’t.

She’s been beaten. A little or a lot. Enough to call the cops. And now here we are, three to seven days later. She wants...more
Mar 26, 2008 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
I love this author. He is raw with emotion. i love this passage:
"Everything made you on thing or the other. It tired you out sometimes. I remember spending ages exhausted and upset. It was nice knowing that boys wanted you then you couldn't want them back. If you smiled at more than one you were a slut; if you didn't smile at all you were a tight bitch. If you smiled at the wrong boy you were back to being a slut and you might get a hiding from his girlfriend, and she'd be a slut for pulling yo...more

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle.

Roddy Doyle is a wonderful writer. Normally his books are fast reads, he writes is an easy going flowing way. His books contain a certain amount of humour but that is because he writes "slice of life" stories. His characters are real, the stories are real and real life (or so I've been told) contains a certain amount of humour.

The Woman Who walked Into Doors possesses many of these ingredients but there is a shadow over the book. It is a love story...more
I picked this one up from a display at the library. I had skimmed a few pages and the writing style caught my eye (he uses punctuation and italics to visually illustrate dialog and flashbacks). I think the author did a great job telling the sadly-classic story of the abused woman, how that situation came to be and the culture in which the situation flourished, how she finally found the strength to kick her husband out of the house and keep on living. I liked the way he was able to explore how su...more
i need to be honest. i will forget this book in 6 months. i enjoyed it, it was touching and raw. but it will vanish like most of the quick british/irish reads i've been enjoying lately, i.e. william trevor, patrick mccabe, patrick mcgrath. if these were romance novels, or anne rivers sheldon beach reads, then that would be expected. but since they are 'contemporary classics,' shouldn't they stick to the ribs longer? just because the subject is 'serious,' it doesn't mean that they aren't fluff of...more
I decided to re-read this before reading the sequel Paula Spencer. I had forgotten just how good this book is, just how well Doyle does a female protagonist. The book is painful and sad and unflinching in it's descriptions of marital abuse and alcoholism but as always, Doyle adds in warmth and humor to make it all hurt less.

After my re-read I'm not sure that I want to read the sequel. I don't want to ruin the image in my head with a new story that might not be as good. Plus on the jacket it say...more
Apr 08, 2007 Darryl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers and survivors
I'm off to Ireland in a month on a working vacation. Wanted to read some contemporay literature from the region and found this book of Doyle's. I liked it. I do work in theodicy (the problem of evil) and trauma theory, and so am always seeking after such at the level of somatic description. In this case, I found it in the consummate craft of Doyle's characterization of Paula. Doyle has a remarkable gift of habitation. Paula is a model of sustained, air-tight, character emanicipation and density....more
Nov 02, 2008 Drgibson63 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any adult
Recommended to Drgibson63 by: Friend
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A tough read, at times gruesome and depressing. Not the typical Roddy Doyle novel. As a woman you can follow the thread...this could happen to any of us if we just make enough excuses and remained silent. We may fool ourselves that it would not be us...but domestic abuse occurs all the time at all levels of society. Paula's "walking into doors" rings sadly true for so many, even the best and the brightest. Doyle bring his signature wit to Paula's reclaiming of her life. One finds oneself, as a r...more
Christian Schwoerke
This novel was a quick two-gulp read, as I “listened” to Paula Spencer nee O’Leary tell how she became a beaten wife and how she managed, somehow, to escape. Roddy Doyle has done a splendid job of creating speech that can be heard in one’s mind, and he makes Paula’s false starts, repetitions, digressions, profanities, and recollected conversations work together to produce what seems an honest, long series of confessions and confidences to herself, a friend, and a social worker/psychiatrist.

Jan 12, 2009 Faith rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2005
The woman who walked into doors - Paula Spencer, who was married for 18 years to Charlo Spencer, who she threw out and who killed a woman and who was shot by the Guards... Paula loves Charlo and doesn't. In the book Paula looks back at her past. We find out the truth about the relationship between her and Charlo little by little.

Roddy Doyle is an expert on creating sympathetic characters. Paula too is sympathetic, even thou she is an alcoholic and a woman with a lot of problems, a woman who has...more
“—God--; I’m sorry—" (45). **What a use of the semi-colon!
“They laughed at girls fighting even though they were scared; girls fought to maim and kill. Girls didn’t box…Boys pretended; girls didn’t. Boys pretended that girls couldn’t fight and everybody believed them. I was a great fighter. Nobody cared” (49).
“I wouldn’t have minded if he had pulled me behind a wall. But he didn’t. He respected me. He’d do that to me later” (53).
“Fellas were like easy crosswords; you knew the answers before you f...more
First, I'll admit that I am currently on page 79 of 226. If I had to rate my desire to keep reading from one to ten, ten being the most compelled to go on, I'd have to say that I'm about at -57.

Next, let me get this out of the way. I'm no prude, and I occasionally enjoy cursing like a sailor. But even I was shocked by Mr. Doyle's overuse of the words f* and c&*#. So much so, in fact, that I can't bring myself to retype the words because I'm so over-exposed to them. The volume of cursing was...more
Roddy Doyle - The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. “Broken nose. Loose teeth. Cracked ribs. Broken finger. Black eyes. I don’t know how many; I once had two at the same time, one fading, the other new. Shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists. Stitches in my mouth. Stitches on my chin. A ruptured eardrum. Burns. Cigarettes on my arms and legs. Thumped me, kicked me, pushed me, burned me. He butted me with his head. He held me still and butted me; I couldn’t believe it. He dragged me around the house by my c...more
Very vibrant rendering of the interior landscape of a working class woman in Dublin in the 90�s. From the perspective of age 39, Paula tells her current story, working on a poverty income as a cleaning woman, raising three children, and recovering from the death of her estranged husband, while constantly reflecting on memories that chart her progression from childhood. With much empathy and humor, Doyle does an outstanding job of portraying how she taps the well of energies, budding sexuality, a...more
Anita Dalton
Doyle understands that life might have a moment wherein a paralyzed person is suddenly capable of action, but that a moment of clarity does not a changed life make. Doyle shows the arc of Paula’s life as she gradually loses more and more innocence, slowly becomes more and more broken. This novel, better than any novel I have read in recent memory, tells the story of how men defined the world of women, from their actions to their words, and how hard it is to overcome such intrusive beginnings.

Emilia P
This was a damn good book.
Maybe "good" isn't the right word for it, but, well, Roddy D. was spot-on at getting a regular woman's voice to come through, filled with the uncompartmentalized joy, memory, despair, need, and hope that come with a hard life.

The first-person narrative flashes between the past -- a not altogether unpleasant youth, and a pretty dismal but relieved present wherein Paula Spencer has kicked her husband out of the house, only to find, a year later, that he's killed a woman...more
Hilary G
Ex Bookworm group review:

I know absolutely nothing about women in abusive relationships and I don't think Roddy Doyle does either. Not only do I find his attempt to portray a battered wife unconvincing, I also find his motives questionable. What on earth would make a man want to do that? I didn't sense any sort of crusade. Though he made Paula Spencer human, likeable and intelligent (with apologies to our teachers, what a condemnation of the education system she is), there was a total lack of em...more
Ian Wood
Sep 28, 2007 Ian Wood rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to see the dark side of Barrtown
Shelves: roddy-doyle
The Barrytown trilogy and ‘Paddy Clark, Ha, Ha, Ha’ were the greatest feel good comedies to come out of Ireland and ‘The Van’ and ‘Paddy Clark, Ha, Ha, Ha’ were respectively and justifiably nominated for and awarded the Booker Prize. So the question was where next? Roddy didn’t leave Barrytown for his next project but showed us it’s seedier underbelly in the dark and harrowing TV show ‘Family’. This introduced us to the Spencer family with its domestic violence and abuse. Each episode focussed o...more
I picked this up because I read an interview where J.K. Rowling cited this as one of her favorites.

Depressing only begins to touch the nature of this book! It chronicles the story of how a marriage can go horribly wrong, and how a woman can feel trapped with a houseful of kids, an abusive husband, and a problem with alcohol.

I found it remarkable that this novel tells about domestic abuse from a woman's point of view--but written by a man. Doyle slowly unwinds the main character's past 20 years...more
Abigail Hillinger
It was interesting to read about domestic violence from a woman's point of view...written by a man. The first part of the book felt significantly different from the second part--the tone, the voice, the narrative itself. One part raised the questions and shuffled the puzzle pieces around so they wouldn't quite connect for the reader, and the second brought the reader directly into this woman's psyche as her husband is literally beating her soul out of her. Certain segments were brutal and almost...more
I think Roddy Doyle is a fantastic author - I have read a lot of his books and what I find most amazing about his work is that none of it is alike. Okay, each book takes place in Ireland, but the stories are so different from one another, and I have even found his style of writing to change from book-to-book. In this book, you enter the mind of a woman in her forties. She is an admitted alcoholic who was married to an abusive husband. The book begins when a police officer visits her at her house...more
Valeria Sosa
"Mi nombre es Paula Spencer. Tengo treinta y nueve años. La semana pasada fue mi cumpleaños. Soy viuda. Estuve casada durante dieciocho años. Mi marido murió el año pasado... Lo mató la polícia. Hacía un año me había dejado. Yo lo eché de la casa. Su nombre era Charlo Spencer; todo el mundo lo llamaba Charlo." Ese fragmento de la novela puede resumir su contenido pero es lo sucedido en medio lo importante, aunque no existe un medio, no totalmente. Sus memorias se convierten en fragmentos doloros...more
I enjoyed the voice and personality of Paula Spencer, the protagonist, but it was painful and frustrating to witness the abuse she endured from her husband. It was clearly explained why she didn't leave (her fears, financial dependence, nowhere to go, her reputation, the threats to her life and her children from the husband)....still, how could anyone survive what she survived, and take the repeated abuse? When she finally acted, it was all the more amazing.
WOW! This is what I'm talking about. A fabulous book - so well written and engaging, so incredibly moving - amazing that a man was so insightful in portrating this female protagonist, trapped in a terrible marriage and by all of her self recrimninations. If you can stomach the details of abuse late in the book then it is well worth the anguish, as this book is artful and perceptive.
Doyle's protagonist, Paula, is sympathetic and complex-- I found her to be a very vivid character, and was moved by her cautious progress toward a different kind of life. Some reviewers seem to find the portrayal insufficiently nuanced, and make the comment that Doyle is unsuccessful in his attempt to write as a middle-aged survivor of domestic abuse, but I disagree; Paula's voice is distinct from that of other Doyle narrators, and her character is quite fully imagined. When writers choose to in...more
Teresa Mills-clark
This was another second hand book sale find and my first time reading a Roddy Doyle book. As a rule, I find there is a weakness in a male author depicting a female character, in fiction. And it lessens the read, for me. However, in this instance Doyle was incredibly accurate. The characters are Irish and the setting in Ireland with the dialogue written exactly as it would have been spoken.

The plot speaks of the harrowing life of a woman abused for 17 years who, in turn, becomes an alcoholic. It...more
you jenny
It's a good book I start to like the writer! It's easy to read even for a Chinese reader whose english was not that good!but I really enjoy the original reading compared to a translated one!
The early marriage,the young mother,the abuse by the husband,the peoples indifference,the out up with,the finally fighting back!be locked into the door,find the key to unlock the door!
I know little about the society of Ireland at this time!i tried to find out something I even watch the bbc documentary of the...more
Jennifer Lauren Collins
Built as a detailed portrait and character study of a woman recovering from a difficult and abusive marriage, Doyle's novel is beautifully written, woven as it is from past and present to create a full illustration of suffering. But, in its effort to create a full picture, the novel also presents a character who is, for the most part, unsympathetic and unlikable. The details of her childhood and teenage years make her nearly impossible to like, and give the impression that the book's primary goa...more
Lynne Beavers
Roddy Doyle plays with time in this novel about a battered wife. And yet it's really about much more than that. Lost dreams, hope and despair, love and lust. Wasn't a huge fan of the author's writing style, as he utilizes repetition too frequently (I suppose he's trying to drive his theme home, but coming across the same paragraph/description more than twice just annoyed me!)
Anyway as I was reading I found myself losing interest until the second half of the book, and then it seemed to hold my at...more
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Roddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.

Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming...more
More about Roddy Doyle...
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha The Commitments A Star Called Henry The Snapper The Van (movie tie-in)

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“I remember I wanted to get away; I wanted to run. I couldn't stand any more. But I didn't want to run. I wanted everything to be perfect; everything was going to be great - I just had to be careful. I was responsible for it all. The clouds coming, I was dragging them towards us; my thoughts were doing it. I was ruining everything. It was up to me. I could control the whole day. All I had to do was make sure that I made no stupid mistakes. Don't walk on the cracks. Don't look at the clouds. It's up to you.” 3 likes
“I swooned the first time I saw Charlo. I actually did. I didn't faint or fall on the floor but my legs went rubbery on me and I giggled. I suddenly knew that I had lungs because they were empty and collapsing.” 3 likes
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