Once again, I am a blog fail. But this time I have a legit excuse. (Kinda. Besides the usual distracted-by-life one.)
It’s taken me a while to get over this one.
I first heard about Slammerkin at DPI this summer, when Michael Pietsch from Little, Brown discussed Emma Donoghue’s Room in his baller keynote speech. I read Room a couple months ago, but Slammerkin had caught my attention too (a novel about an 18th-century prostitute?? Please.), so I picked it up at the ‘brar last week.
In a whirlwind few days involving one poor choice, unfeeling parents, and other horribleness, young Mary Saunders finds herself homeless and pregnant on the streets of London. Forced into prostitution, she discovers it to be—freeing. Her ravenous ambition—to be self-sufficient, to be independent, to be wealthy and admired by all—is impossible with any other female profession. Only as a prostitute can she be truly in command of her own destiny.
This was a rough one, folks. I said as much to my coworker, who (fairly) replied, “What on Earth did you expect?”
“OH, I DON’T KNOW,” I responded. “SOMETHING JAUNTY AND DELIGHTFUL. HOW ABOUT MOLL FLANDERS? I PLAYED A POSTMODERN MOLL FLANDERS IN A COLLEGE ENGLISH CLASS MOVIE PROJECT AND GOT TO WINK SAUCILY AT THE CAMERA AND SPANK MY BOXERS-CLAD CLASSMATE, IT WAS QUITE FUN.”
Slammerkin is good. It is powerful. It is interesting (the historical detail is impeccable!). It made me think—about being a woman, about history, about society, about sex. It was a good read, and I’d recommend it to anyone else who shares my rather disturbing interests. But no, it was not fun. Donoghue pulls no punches with this one—Mary Saunders and her story are raw.
In conclusion, if you have a stomach for disturbing topics and a healthy (?) interest in the underbelly of history, check this one out. If not, consider a pass.