Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue



I first discovered Emma Donoghue when I read the wonderfully written but disturbing Room.  I was blown away by how she was able to create and maintain such an authentic voice for a child whilst allowing us to understand the true horror of his situation, of which he himself was completely unaware.

Since then I have kept an eye out in libraries and charity shops for anything else by Emma Donoghue, and that is how I found Slammerkin.

Even if I hadn’t like Emma Donoghue as an author, Slammerkin would have appealed to me.  It is the story of Mary, a teenage girl growing up in 18th century London.  After being cast out by her mother and step-father at the age of 14, Mary is forced into a life of prostitution.  Suffering ill health, she seeks refuge in the Magdalen Hospital for Reformed Prostitutes, before fleeing to Monmouth to seek a position in the household of her mother’s oldest friend.

One thing I love about Emma Donoghue’s novels is her characterisation.  This is no exception.  Mary is incredibly well drawn and I found myself feeling very maternal towards her.  She is flawed, as she has an unshakeable belief that she will better herself.  This shapes her relationships with and attitude towards the other characters, and leads her into some big mistakes.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Slammerkin.  It is very well paced with a cast of fully developed and believable characters.  It is a historical novel and it is very well researched.  As with many other Emma Donoghue stories, this was in a work of fiction which is inspired by a real life Mary Saunders.  I am in awe of her ability to take tiny fragments of information gleaned from the past and spin whole worlds around them.

For fans of Emma Donoghue, I would definitely recommend Slammerkin.  For anyone who has not yet discovered Emma Donoghue, I would definitely urge you to give her a go, and this book is a great place to start.



Posted on August 22, 2013, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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