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By Brian Keaney on 11-12-12
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 24-12-12
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