Strangers might remember a trip to see a girl hang, but who would spare a thought for the who’s and how’s and whys? 'At thirteen, Mary, the daughter of a poor seamstress, longs for fine clothes as her neighbours hunger for food and warmth. For the love of a gorgeous red ribbon she finds herself seduced into a life on the cold, dangerous streets of late 1700s London. Her saviour is Doll, a gaudy young woman who takes her under her wing. But Mary soon discovers that she can't escape her past and that people like her pay must pay dearly for yearnings not fitting to their class
©2000 Emma Donoghue (P)2012 Hachette Digital
"Utterly gripping" (The Times)
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"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.
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 .
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.
"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.
"Totally Absorbing Story. 5 stars"
I was unsure at first never having heard of the word Slammerkin but I was hooked almost immediately. I especially loved the historical accuracy and will persue more stories set in this age. I truly fell in love with Mary's story. I must admit to being a little shocked at times by some of the language but this was not intended to offend, it was appropriate to the period. I listened at every available opportunity and really didn't want the story to ever end. Beautifully read by Charlotte with excellent regional accents used. this will be a tough act to follow. overall fantastic.
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