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By Brian Keaney on 12-11-12
Beautifully written but deeply harrowing
Set in London and Monmouth in the eighteenth century, Slammerkin is the story of Mary, a fourteen year old girl abandoned by her family and forced to resort to prostitution in order to survive. Be warned - it is often deeply harrowing. However, Emma Donoghue's eye for detail, coupled with her delight in language made even the darkest moments pulse with energy.
"The old man's tongue pushed past her lips as if looking for something, buried treasure. It tasted like a burnt thing. It thrashed like a dying fish and bruised the roof of her mouth. She thought she might choke."
This is an unflinching portrait of life at the bottom of a brutal society and from the first page, it's clear that things will not end well for Mary. Yet I kept on hoping until the very end, because despite all the squalor, there is so much that is life-affirming in these pages, and because the characters are so recognisably human. You feel you know them all so well and you desperately want their plans to prosper. Sadly, very few of them do.
The narration by Charlotte Stevens was first class: beautifully clear and fully engaged.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
By Elizabeth Pegg(manners) on 12-24-12
Slammerkin is the name for a loose fitted garment worn by women in the 1700,s.The title hints at the loose morals of this century,the story itself tells of the corruption of an innocent child who makes one crucial mistake and ends up paying for it with her life.
Mary's story is told by the author in such a way that
it is easy to conjure up the vivid images of the dirt and filth of the London streets,the lewd talk and behaviour of the characters.
In contrast to this bleakness is the introduction of the rural Wales,which gives the reader a glimmer of hope for Mary's character but alas her short life will not let her shake off her past sins.
I originally read this book about five years ago and at the time it left me feeling sad for the people of that time,but nothing really changes .life is easy for some and hard for others depending mostly on which bed you are born in. Looking around the world today there are young people living equally miserable existences,we havent eradicated the horror of not having the choice to live the life we really want .
The audio version somehow adds to the atmosphere of the time ,we have the sense of hearing to add another dimension.
Well worth reading or listening to ,Emma Donoghue has done an excellent job here .
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Anna on 12-24-12
I absolutely loved this book. Set in the late 1700s; it's a story of a young girl's tragic life with lots of twists, turns and shocks. You really get a feel of what life would have been like at this time if you were out on your luck. The narrator was excellent and really brought the story to life.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Amelia on 10-21-15
Very sad and hopeless
This is the first book I have read by Emma Donoghue. The character of Mary is seemingly doomed from the start. She is living in extreme poverty with her mother step father and half sibling. She wants a better life than what her mother has had but ends up with worse when she is raped by a street seller and becomes pregnant. Her mother when she finds out throws her out in the street. She is then gang raped by a group of men before meeting up with a prostitute Doll Higgins.
As a character Mary is not a likeable character. She is selfish and manipulative and very materialistic. She is focused on her self and her own needs. She shows cunning and conniving and is ultimately a criminal. It is not difficult to see why Mary developed in this way considering her back story. The story is sad and especially about the lives led by prostitutes in London during this time. Other characters like Doll are equally interesting and add to the story.
The author gives a graphic description of London as seen by the poor. I was rooting for Mary and felt so sad at the end of the book. This is based in fact although the author did add fiction to the story. Overall I would recommend but be prepared for a sad read.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By A.Connor on 07-08-17
I loved this but maybe not to everyone's taste..
'hats off straight away for gentle & lilting but characterful narration - so well done and wholly right for the story, for the time, the place and most of all for 'Mary'.
I selected this on the basis of 'Room' but any comparison would be apples & pears..!
This is the life-story of Mary. As an only child who is 'fallen', Mary is sent away & must learn survival on the city's harshest backstreets - this world together with the loss & rejection of her parents, shapes her.
When later there is opportunity for safety and quiet, can Mary un-learn the hardest of lessons life has taught her..should she look for & can she live with compromise; can there be for her, social approval, belonging & peace of mind?
This book has a real sense of era - I could almost smell those foul backstreets then feel the rich white velvet, the softness of Jane & the finger-prick of the seamstresses needle..
The storyline 'pauses' in part to colour-in the minutiae of everyday life - a slower pace that might not suit all listeners. I was perfectly happy though, plodding on, enjoying the slow building of relations & communication & the contradictions for and within the troubled young woman who is Mary; beautifully written I think & Id recommend.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Clare on 03-16-17
I really enjoyed this book and loved the narrator. This is probably one of the best of its genre I've heard. The main character evolves as the story delelops and there are many twists and turns. She is quite an unusual heroine and I felt attached to her and intrigued.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful