What an evening was had when Wexford Library hosted the 5th of six ‘The Readers’ Voice’ programmes, celebrating Ireland’s Book Clubs, when Roddy Doyle was interviewed for Radio by Anne Enright, Laureate for Irish Fiction.
I have to admit that before being introduced to this book by Slippery Green Book Club, Roddy Doyle had not been one of those authors on my radar despite being a Booker Prize winner with an amazing body of work which includes books for both adults and children and various stage and screenplays.
The session lasted an hour, but I could have listened to Roddy all night and gauging the reaction of the audience, made up from various book clubs, the feeling was mutual. He was charming, charismatic and genuinely interested in the audience, answering all questions put to him in a very considered and thoughtful way.
When first published in 1996, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, caused quite a stir in Ireland, dealing as it did with violence against women within marriage, especially to those who were in denial about such abuse.
The Woman Who Walked into Doors is the story of Paula Spencer, who finally manages to break free from such a relationship and regain her dignity and self-worth while still maintaining her sense of humour.
Roddy relayed the story of when Saturday evening mass, instead of Sunday morning, was in it’s infancy in the country and he was sitting in a pub opposite a church, watching his favourite football team, Chelsea, on the television. When the mass ended some members of the congregation made their way over to the pub and on recognising who he was felt compelled to tell him that he and his book had been the subject of the sermon from the priest that evening.
He also said that the idea of Paula hitting Charlo over the back of the head with a frying pan was something he’d seen on the television sit-com Fawlty Towers.
On a more serious note ‘The Woman Who Walked Into Doors’ has been used in various training programmes for those professionals who come into contact with women such as Paula and how to deal with and try to understand their predicament. Roddy is, and should be, rightly proud of this.
On one occasion he was invited by a friend to talk to a group of women she was involved with who had been in abusive relationships and who had been given his book to read. He said he was quite nervous as to the reception he might receive from this group, until one of them said “How the f… did you get inside my head.” I can think of no better accolade for this book.
Thanks to Slippery Green Book Club, Roddy Doyle is now on my list of ‘must read’ authors. I look forward to reading his latest book ‘Smile’ which is due out in September.
I can’t finish without sending out a great big ‘THANK YOU’ to the management and staff of Wexford Library who go above and beyond to provide the people of Wexford Town with interesting, innovative and varied programmes to suit all ages and genders. Keep up the good work