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Blow Your House Down (1984)

de Pat Barker

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1915111,739 (3.58)39
A serial killer stalks prostitutes with profound and unexpected consequences in this riveting novel from the Booker Prize-wining author of Ghost Road A city and its people are in the grip of a killer who is roaming the northern city, singling out prostitutes. The face of his latest victim stares out from every newspaper and billboard, haunting the women who walk the streets. But life and work go on. Brenda, with three children, can't afford to give up while Audrey, now in her forties, desperately goes on 'working the cars'. And then, when another woman is savagely murdered, Jean, her lover, takes desperate measures...… (més)
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Es mostren totes 5
The words that immediately come to mind after finishing ‘Blow Your House Down’ by Pat Barker are negative: unflinching, bleak, dark and depressing. This is a dark story of the women preyed upon by a killer, women living on the edge, surviving by selling their bodies to men at a time when prostitutes are being murdered. But other words also came to mind as I dwelled on the book afterwards: friendship, community, solidarity, defiance, vulnerability, strength. Slim, I read it in one sitting on a rainy afternoon, this is a powerful, compelling read. It pulls you into the women’s stories, makes you feel at one with them.
‘Blow Your House Down’ is set in a Northern Town in the 1980s. The timing and setting draw inevitable links with the Yorkshire Ripper who preyed on prostitutes and lone women in the north and was arrested and convicted in 1981. Frightened but driven by the need for rent money or to feed their children, the women continue to walk the streets as the face of one of their own, Kath, the killer’s latest victim, looks down at them from a giant poster. The detail of their ordinary lives is described, starting with Brenda who settles her daughters in bed in preparation to going out with her friend Audrey. Their first call is the Palmerston, the pub where the women gather for a drink before going out onto the streets as a pair. There is a camaraderie, a spirit of just-get-on-with-it. We see some of Brenda’s back story, how she tried working at the nearby chicken factory where the women sing to cope with their grizzly job, how she has been let down by men and is trying to manage on her own.
Barker shows no sentimentality for the women, she describes their lives simply and allows the characters to elicit the reader’s sympathy. Like the chickens lined up on the production line, the women walk up and down the streets, trying to support each other by taking note of number plates. The police sit by, watching, using the women as bait to catch the killer. The men have no voice, they are portrayed as liars, weak and pathetic, except for one whose breath smells of the violet sweets he eats.
“You do a lot of walking in this job. More than you might think. In fact, when I get to the end of a busy Saturday night, it’s me feet that ache. There, that surprised you, didn’t it?” Part 3 starts with Jean, whose lover Carol, thought to have gone to London, has been identified as the latest victim. Jean sets out to entrap the killer. “I want to catch the bastard more than most.”
The language is unstinting and graphic, particularly of the sex scenes. The women’s dialogue is in the vernacular which makes them feel real. The tension rises as you wonder which woman will be killed next; each time a women gets into a car with a stranger you think ‘is it him?’ and this drives you to read on.
An accomplished novel published in 1984, it is difficult to appreciate this was only Barker’s second novel. Read it, you will not forget it.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Apr 3, 2018 |
I found Blow Your House Down by Pat Barker to be a powerful story about the life of prostitutes that work the lower end of the scale while at the same time a serial killer is targeting them. Told from the perspective of the women, this is a first hand picture of the life they live, how they are generally treated and why they continue in this trade.

There is nothing nice about this story, these women live dark and dingy lives, work in disgusting conditions, and really, have no one to rely upon but themselves and each other. There are graphic scenes of violence that will haunt me for some time. Yet I found this to be an riveting read that I couldn’t put down. The author uses sparse prose, sprinkled with street slang to paint, what I believe is an accurate picture of life on the streets, and I found myself drawn into the story and caring about these people.

This is my first book by this author, who is probably best known for her Regeneration Trilogy, but I will certainly be looking for more. If you have the stomach for it, I highly recommend this book. ( )
5 vota DeltaQueen50 | Aug 29, 2011 |
Can't say I liked it but that does not mean it's not good. ( )
  kaylol | Dec 9, 2010 |
Someone has been murdering prostitutes in Northgate but the women's lives go on much as they used, they work in the chicken factory or walk the streets, worry about childcare and abusive partners. I needed something hardhitting and more contemporary after what feels like a historical fiction binge recently, and this answered the need admirably. ( )
  mari_reads | Nov 4, 2008 |
In een Noord-Engelse stad heeft een seriemoordenaar het vooral op prostituées gemunt. De politie staat machteloos. Elke avond kan er weer een slachtoffer vallen. Toch gaan Brenda, Audrey en de anderen weer de baan op. Op straathoeken, onder viaducten en in achterafsteegjes leveren zij, ieder voor zich en elk op haar eigen manier, een heroïsche strijd tegen de angst. ( )
  tantanel | Dec 10, 2007 |
Es mostren totes 5
It's the plot of a thousand thrillers, told this time from the point of view not of the male detective but from that of the victims and potential victims. . . Mrs. Barker is able to make us see her characters from within, as they see themselves, and thereby reveals the full individuality and humanity of women who have got short shrift both in literature and in life.
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (1 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Barker, Patautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Halling, KiaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hartmann, ElisabethTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jameson, AnneNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Møller-Madsen, LisbethTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nilsson, Ann-SofiNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Preis, AnnikaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Priem, JoosTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rothenborg, JudithNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss the abyss also looks into you.

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A serial killer stalks prostitutes with profound and unexpected consequences in this riveting novel from the Booker Prize-wining author of Ghost Road A city and its people are in the grip of a killer who is roaming the northern city, singling out prostitutes. The face of his latest victim stares out from every newspaper and billboard, haunting the women who walk the streets. But life and work go on. Brenda, with three children, can't afford to give up while Audrey, now in her forties, desperately goes on 'working the cars'. And then, when another woman is savagely murdered, Jean, her lover, takes desperate measures...

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813 — Literature American and Canadian American fiction

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Mitjana: (3.58)
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