Read Sharons Baby by Roddy Doyle Free Online
Book Title: Sharons Baby|
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Reader ratings: 6.7
The author of the book: Roddy Doyle
Date of issue: January 1999
ISBN 13: 9783548227559
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 539 KB
City - Country: No data
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As much as I liked The Commitments , the first novel in Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy, The Snapper – book two – is much more satisfying. It’s just as funny and profane, but it has more emotional depth, an amusing if troubling mystery and characters who feel alive and authentic.
It focuses on Sharon Rabbitte, the 20-year-old sister of the Commitments’ manager, Jimmy. I remember meeting her briefly in the first book, when Jimmy’s friend Deco complimented her as she passed him in the Rabbitte’s North Dublin home. I believe she told him: “Go an' shite.” Ouch.
The Snapper opens with Sharon announcing to her parents – Jimmy Sr. and Veronica – that she’s pregnant. She works at a grocery store and lives at home with them along with Jimmy Jr. (who’s trying to break into the DJ field), directionless Les, charmed youngest boy Darren and the twins, Linda and Tracy, who take up one hobby then quickly move onto another.
The news is greeted with some happiness – it’s the late 80s, and the stigma against pregnancies out of wedlock isn’t what it used to be. Sharon’s clearly Jimmy’s favourite child, and he’s gonna be a grandpa! However, Sharon refuses to say who the father is, and as her situation becomes more evident – she also hides the news from her girlfriends for some reason – her conflicted emotions, and those of her pa, begin to surface.
Rumours spread (their neighbourhood is pretty small, after all), and soon Jimmy Sr is upset that he can’t go to his local bar without overhearing gossip. In the lively Rabbitte household, between tea, TV watching and friendly familial shouting, father and daughter soon aren’t talking. Jimmy, normally voluble and jokey (he is the book’s great character), is glum.
I loved this book. I loved these people. Doyle is one of the best writers about working class lives. (There’s a fascinating subplot about one of Jimmy Sr.’s out-of-work friends trying to find employment.) I came to love the cluttered, loud house the Rabbittes live in.
And I especially loved witnessing the tender, complex relationship between a father and his daughter. When Jimmy starts reading up about pregnancy (in “a buke”) to help out Sharon, at first I thought it was ridiculous. I mean, the man’s sired half a dozen kids himself. But later Jimmy admits that he wasn’t really around for those deliveries (see quote below). He discovers the miracle of birth not through his own children but through his child’s child.
And when Sharon finally gives her child its name? Wow. I teared up.
I noticed that many Goodreads readers were upset that Sharon continued to drink alcohol while pregnant, and criticized the book for that. Really? Of course, it’s not responsible behaviour, but it’s not an author’s job to judge his characters. The cause of Sharon's pregnancy is also controversial, especially for a contemporary reader. But the way it's depicted feels honest and real. Again: no judgement.
A word of advice: It’s a short book, and there’s a lot of dialogue, but don’t read it too quickly. Savour it. Doyle’s writing is so good. Here are some examples:
Jimmy Sr., after learning about the pregnancy, is out drinking with Sharon and gives her a fiver to go join her friends across the bar.
- Ah, there’s no need, Daddy.
- There is o’ course, said Jimmy Sr.
He moved in closer to her.
- It’s not every day yeh find ou’ you’re goin’ to be a granda.
He’d just thought of that now and he had to stop himself from letting his eyes water. He often did things like that, gave away pounds and fivers or said nice things; little things that made him like himself.
And here’s Jimmy talking to Sharon about what he was doing when his children were born. (I take it Conways and Hikers are pubs.)
- When your mammy was havin’ Jimmy I was in work. An’ when she was havin’ you I was in me mother’s. When she had Leslie I was inside in town, in Conways, yeh know, with the lads. The Hikers wasn’t built then. For Darren, I was - I can’t remember. The twins, I was in the Hikers.
- You’ve a great memory.
- Nowadays the husbands are there with the women, said Jimmy Sr. - That’s much better, I think. I’d
He scratched his leg.
- Because he can hold her hand an’ help her, an’ encourage her, yeh know, an’ see his child bein’ born.
There wasn’t even a car going past. The pipes upstairs weren’t making any noise.
- Sharon, I’ll – Only if yeh want now – I wouldn’t mind stayin’ with you when – you’re havin’ it.
- Ah no.
That’s lovely writing: heartfelt, honest, the words and pauses capturing the real rhythms and cadences of ordinary life.
I can’t wait to finish the trilogy with The Van. And while I’m a little upset that the Rabbitte mother, Veronica, was mostly in the background sewing outfits for the twins’ hobbies, I look forward to reading Doyle’s two Paula Spencer novels to see how he gets inside the head of a mature woman.
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Read information about the authorRoddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.
Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1993.
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