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The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

(Paula Spencer #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  9,176 ratings  ·  625 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
Published May 8th 2007 by ISIS Audio Books (first published April 1st 1996)
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Dannii Elle
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author has been on my radar since a creative course in university, when my lecturer provided us with her self-curated list of 100 books/authors to read in our lifetime. Roddy Doyle's name headed the piece. I acquired a collection of his best known works and then did nothing else with them for a few years.

I admit I was fearful that his writing might not have aged well, when I read the synopsis and reviews that spoke of this cultural focus. I was wrong. So very wrong. Doyle provides a startli
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
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
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
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
Mar 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Abbie | ab_reads
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’d never have expected what I got in this book just from the cover and title, but once you actually take a second to think about it, think about what the old excuse of ‘Oh I walked into the door’ to cover up a bruise or black eye actually means, then you’ll begin to have an inkling of what this book entails.
As I mentioned when I started reading it, I was hesitant to find a male author writing a female protagonist, as we’ve all encountered those male-authored women who think of nothing else but
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Donna McCaul Thibodeau
I'm not sure that I really liked this book but it definitely deserved a four star review. Roddy Doyle manages to write a book about an abused woman from her point of view and he nails it. Amazing, really. Searingly honest, it tells the story of Paula Spencer and her day to day life married to the abusive Charlo. I read this years ago and thought I'd never go back to it as it's just so sad but he wrote a sequel and I wanted to read it so I read this one again. One of Mr. Doyle's better efforts.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
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 a di
Lyn Elliott
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lyn by: Book club
I came to this book reluctantly. Another book club choice I hadn't made; didn't want to read about domestic violence in general or an abused woman in particular.

But Roddy Doyle hooked me from the unexpected start, 'I was told by a Guard who came to the door. He wasn't one I'd seen before, one of the usual ones....I knew before he spoke. It clicked inside me when I opened the door. (For years opening that door scared the life out of me. I hated it; it terrified me)'.

And straight away we are into
Emilia P
Dec 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-books
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
Jo Davies
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fact that Roddy Doyle could write a book about a woman stuck in an abusive relationship and make it so utterly believable is a testament to his imagination and extreme skill as a story-teller. The story opens with Paula Spencer, a middle-aged Irish wife and mother, being told that her abusive husband Charlo has been killed by the police in an aborted attempt at kidnapping a local bank manager. This revelation fuels a boatload worth of memories of her marriage to the man at whose hands she su ...more
Apr 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my major goals in the past few years has been to read more books by women, about women. I grew up reading books by men that purported to be for general audiences, but that all too often completely whiffed on the portrayal of women's interior lives (with "great" novels and "classic" authors either completely avoiding the issue, or relying heavily on tropes and stereotypes). Female characters written by women, on the other hand, typically ring truer, even when the character's life experienc ...more
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, 2017
The protagonist of Roddy Doyle’s 1996 novel, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is 39-year-old Dublin mother of four, Paula Spencer. When the novel opens, a Guard arrives at Paula’s door. This is not an unusual event as the police frequently come knocking at the door looking for Charlo, a man with a criminal past, but this time is different…

From that moment, Paula recalls her story of life with Charlo, how they met, their torrid courtship, her father’s strong disapproval, and the highlight of Paula
Nov 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any adult
Recommended to Drgibson63 by: Friend
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Victoria Wallin
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though I read this novel many years ago, this irish tale of Paula Spencer and her trying to survive domestic abuse has never left my mind.

Roddy Doyle's description of this small irish village and its working class people struggling to stay together and society's judgements is cleverly put together with a gritty, raw language that is beautiful in its ugly truths. It is kitchen sink realism in one of its better forms.

The shock of being hit the first time, the hope that it will never happen
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up out of bargain bin at a used book store because I was sure that someone/thing had recommended it to me. I'm now all the way through it and can't figure out why it sounded familiar.

This book is a woman in ireland jumping between the present where she struggles with alcohol dependency and her husband's death - and story telling from her past, including her childhood and when her husband first started to physically abuse her.

There were some really powerful passages and the w
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
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very grim read about the devastation of domestic violence and alcoholism and the social conditions that exacerbate the problem. Major trigger warning: this book doesn’t spare the reader from graphic, heartrending violence, to the point of near despair, in my case. It’s a book that will come back to me unbidden many times.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This a heartbreaking and brutal read and the train of thought narrative adds to the despair. The main character is engaging and realistic, you want the best for her which makes the story so sad. This is not a comfortable book to read but worth it.
Ananya Ghosh
About 3.5 stars, but I didn't wanna give less, so I gave 4 instead.

This was a surprisingly great book and an enriching literature, and I'm glad to have read this gem. This was again one of those stories that don't have a definite end and seem inconsequential and I love it.

Paula Spencer is a middle aged woman, who is alcoholic, estranged from her abusive husband and barely making ends meet. She embarks on the narrative of her life and gives us little details of her life, like a holiday in a cara
Ian Wood
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gwen Bartlett
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy book to read. The story of a woman who is abused, becomes an alcoholic. She finally attacks her husband and makes him leave. He eventually kills a woman and is shot by the police. Very depressing.
Tracy Towley
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alcoholism
Ouch. This book, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, hurt me. It really hurt me. The kind of hurt where I was lying in bed at night reading it and my partner walked in to kiss me hello after coming home from a 12-hour shift in a 1,000 degree kitchen and I just batted him away without looking away from the book because how could someone possibly interrupt a person when they were going through something so emotional, hello!

Thankfully he's used to living with a book nerd and he didn't take it personal
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Play Book Tag: The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle - 2 stars 2 13 May 21, 2018 06:38AM  

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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

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Paula Spencer (2 books)
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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.” 8 likes
“There were days when I didn't exist; he saw through me and walked around me. I was invisible. There were days when I liked not existing. I closed down, stopped thinking, stopped looking...There were days when I couldn't even feel pain. They were the best ones. I could see it happening. There was no ground under me, nothing to fall to. I was able to not care. I could float. I didn't exist” 8 likes
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