Jennifer Reese
February 07, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Don't Wake Me at Doyle's

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Maura Murphy
publisher
St. Martin's Press
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

At 70, Maura Murphy — an Irish housewife with nine children — was diagnosed with lung cancer. She subsequently lost a lung, left her husband of 50 years, and decided to write a memoir. The result is Don’t Wake Me at Doyle’s, an artless but harrowing record of grinding poverty, nonstop pregnancy, addictions, and a bitterly unhappy marriage. (On sex: ”It was no more enjoyable than collecting a bucket of water from the pump or doing a load of washing.”) According to Murphy, her husband was a feckless alcoholic who beat her, cheated on her, and left bottles of pee lying around the bedroom in the wake of his frequent benders. Though this rambling book lacks polish, Murphy manages to convey a lifetime of rancor and misery in this depressing and brutally effective autobiography.

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