Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle

Since there is no focal conflict or struggle the story lacks intensity.

Book Review by Xavier Toby | 11 Jan 2007
Book title: Paula Spencer
Author: Roddy Doyle
Unfortunately, this sequel to The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is pointless. Doyle writes the character of Paula Spencer superbly, with short, clipped sentences choked with emotions never expressed, opportunities missed, and dialogue that expresses so much while hardly saying a thing. All the characters are well written and feel both gritty and real, and you care deeply even for the most mundane of them. The problem is that this novel is not a patch on The Woman Who Walked into Doors. That book featured an alcoholic Spencer dealing with the death of an abusive husband and reflecting on the mess of her life, while at the same time attempting to raise children. It was gritty and explicit, and as a reader you had both compassion and respect for Spencer. This respect remains throughout the sequel, and while there is still tension, this book has nowhere near the narrative strength of its predecessor. Problems arise but remain unresolved, akin to the mess that is real life, but since there is no focal conflict or struggle the story lacks intensity. It is again a beautiful portrait of a woman triumphing over hardship, but it's directionless, and consequently seems pointless. The original was a quick read, but this book begins to drag long before it attempts a conclusion. [Xavier Toby]
Release Date: Out now. Published by Jonathan Cape. Cover Price £16.99.