My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love the fact that this novel progressed from the good to the bad. For a story about alcoholism and abuse (more abuse than alcoholism), I find this progression logical and effective, yet rarely followed.
Also effective was Doyle's first-person narration from the POV of the abused wife. It was fascinating to read from inside Paula's head rather than as a 3rd party observer watching her life. There is a sense of frustration looking at a situation of abuse--real or fictional--but the frustration is experienced very differently when seen from inside the abusive relationship than from outside looking into it.
For as short as it was, I found Doyle's novel to be unnecessarily repetitive in several places. Obviously the repetition served a purpose many times, but there were some instances where I just felt "ok you've already been over this three times, I do not need to hear it again." As a reader, I would just skim-skip those parts, looking for the next piece of relevant action. E.g. I promise! I promise! I promise! I never really did figure out who was saying that. Was it Charlo promising not to do it again? I don't think so. Was it Paula promising not to do whatever it was that had provoked Charlo to hit her? Most likely, but that wasn't very clear, and therefore not very effective, either, especially because it was always followed by different content. "Don't hit my mammy!" would sometimes be sprinkled in the "I promise!' tirade, and afterwards Paula may talk about being afraid of Charlo, or she may talk about loving him and needing him and being unable to live without him. I usually skipped those entire sections, my eyes and mind hungering for the next piece of new information. These were things I already knew from what I had read and "witnessed" throughout the book, and although I understand that I was supposed to be inside Paula's mind, I simply did not need to hear them again.
All in all, a powerful book. I don't know how much Charlo's murder of the young woman added to the novel other than an additional unanswerable question for Paula to worry over in her mind, but perhaps a second reading would bring some of these issues into clearer perspective. It's a short enough, quick enough read, that I just might.
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