Born in Ireland, Emma Donoghue spent many years in England and now lives in Canada. She is the author of Slammerkin as well as two other novels, a collection of short stories, and a collection of fairy tales. Her novels have been translated into eight languages.
In 18th-century England, a young girl's longing for finer thingsÄespecially finer clothesÄleads to murder. Based on a true story, this book has become an international best seller. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Donoghue takes scraps of the intriguing true story of Mary Saunders, a servant girl who murdered her mistress in 1763, and fashions from them an intelligent and mesmerizing historical novel. Born to a mother who sews for pennies and a father who died in jail, 14-year-old Mary's hardened existence in London brings to mind the lives of Dickens's child characters. Mary has an eye for fine things and ambitions beyond her social station, and her desire for a shiny red ribbon leads her to sell the only thing she owns: her body. Turned out by her mother, Mary is taken in by a local prostitute, Doll Higgins; they live together in Rat's Castle in the seedy section of town. Doll teaches Mary the tricks of her trade and gives her all the gaudy dresses Mary once coveted. For a year, the term slammerkin meaning a loose gown or a loose woman becomes all too familiar to Mary, until she checks into a charity hospital and attempts to straighten out. Missing the "liberty" of her former life, she leaves the hospital only to encounter more trouble back on the streets. Fleeing to the country village of Monmouth, her parents' hometown, Mary finds Mrs. Jones, an old friend of her mother's, and obtains a maid's position in her household, but Mary can't shake her dark ambitions: she re-enters the flesh trade, bringing disaster upon herself. Readers may feel both sympathetic to and angry with Mary, who questions whether hers is the lot of all women, but whose anesthetized spirit leads to her rash action. Donoghue's characterizations are excellent, and her brutal imagery and attention to language capture the spirit of the time with vital precision. Agent, Caroline Davidson. (June) Forecast: The provocative jacket will catch readers' attention, but attentive handselling, perhaps helped by the author tour, will be required to distinguish this worthy historical novel from similar titles. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
PRAISE FOR SLAMMERKIN
Superb . . . A novel of real force, filled with unforgettable
sights . . . A profoundly entertaining and intelligent
[A] colorful romp of a novel . . . Impossible to resist. Donoghue paints a spirited picture. . . . Fabulous.--The New York Times Book Review
Intelligent and mesmerizing.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This book rocks from the title on. A spectacular job.--USA Today
What a great read this book is! Donoghue is a real writer, and she's elevated her racy story close to art.--The Washington Post Book World
[A] transporting read.--Mademoiselle