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Search - Slammerkin

Author: Emma Donoghue
Slammerkin: A loose gown; a loose woman. — Born to rough cloth in Hogarth's London, but longing for silk, Mary Saunders's eye for a shiny red ribbon leads her to prostitution at a young age. A dangerous misstep sends her fleeing to Monmouth, and the position of household seamstress, the ordinary life of an ordinary girl with no expe...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780151006724
ISBN-10: 0151006725
Publication Date: 6/15/2001
Pages: 352
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 80 ratings
Publisher: Harcourt
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

Naiche avatar reviewed Slammerkin on + 90 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 14
Very cool book about a poor girl in Victorian England who discovers that she can assert some level of finacial and emotional independence by becoming a prostitute. Her drive to avoid being someone else's chattel leads her to a number of drastic, and often unwise, decisions. Good portrayal of the severely limited number of options given to women historically. Also interesting because it refuses to romanticise the protagonist - you cheer her on her paths to freedom, but despise her willingness to abuse others to get the things she wants (and you pity her short-sightedness). Despite the cover picture, not a bodice-ripper by any means.
reviewed Slammerkin on + 56 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
This book is terrific! If you're interested in the 1700s England/Wales, how young girls made money then (including prostitution), and class issues, this is the book for you. I loved the writing style. Donaghue wrote from the main character's point of view until the very end of the book when she switches to the POV of other characters also. It worked very well to give a larger picture of the story. I loved this book!
reviewed Slammerkin on + 151 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
I picked up this book because I enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White (Michael Faber) so much. This was very much in the same vein, a historical character study of a prostitute, but heavier on the character study and lighter on the romance feminist triumph. Mary was one of those characters that you know you should hate, but end up loving and siding with as the book develops.

Overall, not a great, but a reasonably good novel on the life of a prostitute in the mid 18th century. Worth reading.
reviewed Slammerkin on + 287 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I didn't really want to like Mary, but I found myself liking her very much and having a lot of pity for her and hoping that things would work out for her. If only she had not longed so much for the red ribbon. How differently would everything have worked out? But then again, would her life have really been that much better had she not wanted the ribbon?
reviewed Slammerkin on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
It was refreshing to have a character with so many unlikable qualities and to have the sexual escapades seem so unappealing. The author did a good job of transporting me to 1760.
Read All 70 Book Reviews of "Slammerkin"

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justreadingabook avatar reviewed Slammerkin on + 1596 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book, the story was so engaging and you felt for the main character. How can society do that to girls? Very interesting subject matter. A really good read.
reviewed Slammerkin on + 69 more book reviews
Very interesting!!
reviewed Slammerkin on + 41 more book reviews
It was okay. A little slow in the middle.
reviewed Slammerkin on
I loved the writing itself. It made me really imagine the town, the scenery, the people.
reviewed Slammerkin on + 81 more book reviews
Wonderful book with unforgettable characters.
reviewed Slammerkin on + 574 more book reviews
Id didn't, but my sister read this and said it was okay but totally depressing.
reviewed Slammerkin on
If you like picaresque historical novels about women, you'll probably like this book. That being said, I preferred Belle Cora by Phillip Margules and My Notorious Life by Sarah Manning. They were tighter.

The first 1/3 of this book was totally solid and compelling. The story of a girl's descent into prostitution in eighteenth century London is can't-look-away horrifying and fascinating. Where this book falters is once Mary leaves London, and boy does it falter. It starts jumping POV to characters who have scarcely been introduced, and the pacing slows down to an excruciating grind, to the point where I almost put the book down. It picks back up in the final third, but it was rough going for a while.

I really like Donahue's use of language and her ability to voice characters so well. I couldn't put down Room or Kissing the Witch. Her masterful language and voicing is still evident, but this book could have used some heavy editing.
justreadingabook avatar reviewed Slammerkin on + 1596 more book reviews
Wow! What a ride was this book. Then to find out that it was based on a true story really makes you think. Excellent details and information about the life and struggles that a young woman would have to go through in that time and how to survive. A really great read.


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