Fiction, Historical Fiction

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

After reading Room, I decided to try more Emma Donoghue books. So here is my review:

All Mary wants is to be rich and have beautiful dresses. She doesn’t want to wear her sack dresses and go to Charity school. She does not want to go into service and work as a maid; nor does she want to work as a seamstress like her mother. One day, as Mary rushes home through the busy streets of London, she spots one of the local whores strolling around in bright clothes with a red ribbon in her hair. Mary is entranced and decides to approach a peddler for a ribbon but finds she can’t afford it. She devises a plan to save up for it but when she tries to buy it, the peddler increases the price. But he offers her another way to pay for it: a kiss. Although she allows him to kiss her, he soon takes advantage and rapes her. Mary rushes home and hides all evidence of what happened to her. As the months pass, she becomes extremely depressed and resentful of her meager future prospects. Her parents discover that she is pregnant and promptly kick her out of the house. However, Mary is taken in by the local whore she had seen previously who encourages her to start a life of whoring for herself. As her obsession with clothes and deception grow and grow, Mary starts heading towards what seems to be a disastrous end.

This novel was engaging and had brilliant descriptions. The language in the story changed throughout the novels, sometimes gentille and sometimes grotesque; in both times, it captured what I consider the essence of London in 1763. The plot was crazy; something was always happening and it seemed so improbable that it became easy to believe it happened.  I should say that this book is not for the light of heart – it can be quite vulgar at some points. However, I thought it gave a lot of insight into human characteristics and was very interesting. If you liked the raw-ness of Room, I’m sure you will enjoy this.

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