The Women Behind the Door

The Women Behind the Door


Booker-Prize winner Roddy Doyle’s spectacular return to his iconic heroine, Paula Spencer

'The undisputed laureate of ordinary lives'


‘Brilliant…passionate, funny and humane’

At sixty-six, Paula Spencer – mother, grandmother, widow, addict, survivor – is finally living her life. A job at the dry cleaners she enjoys, a man – Joe – with whom she shares what she wants, friends who see her for who she is, and four grown children, now with families and petty dramas the likes of which Paula could only have hoped for. Despite its ghosts, Paula has started to push her past aside.

That is until Paula’s eldest, Nicola, turns up on her doorstep. Independent, affluent, a loving wife and mother, “a success” – Nicola is suddenly determined to leave it all behind. Over the next few days, as Nicola gradually confides in Paula the secret that unleashed this moment of crisis, mother and daughter find themselves untangling anecdotes, jokes, memory and revelation to confront the bruised but beautiful symmetry of what each means to the other.

The next sequence in the life of Roddy Doyle’s quietly remarkable, ever-memorable Paula Spencer, The Women Behind the Door is a delicately devastating portrait of shame and the inescapable shadow it casts over families.

'Paula Spencer is a hymn to female generosity; the ordinary, discardable kind that keeps the world turning. Reading her voice for the first time sent a pang of recognition through me, followed by love. '


  • The undisputed laureate of ordinary lives
    Sunday Times

About the author

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. He is the author of twelve acclaimed novels including The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van and Smile, two collections of short stories, and Rory & Ita, a memoir about his parents. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.
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