Paula Spencer (Jonathan Cape)
Epic historical trilogies must be a hell of a grind. So, you can forgive Roddy Doyle for taking his eye temporarily off the ball of his Last Roundup series (two down: A Star Called Henry and Oh, Play that Thing, one to come in, probably, 2009) and back to one of his most vivid creations of the 90s. Paula Spencer first showed up, bruised and boozed, in The Woman Who Walked into Doors, an atypically fun-free analysis of domestic abuse. Now free of a violent husband and empty of the ale that has blighted her life, Paula is back, albeit with other family-oriented worries.
The story is about a new woman, but it’s also about a new Ireland, a more diverse place with East Europeans and West Africans mingling with the author’s archetypal stout compatriots. The book is as tender and as true as you’d have expected, but I for one can’t wait for Doyle to get back to his big project.