Don't Wake Me at Doyle's: A Memoir

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"Murphy's skillful storytelling and optimistic spirit give even the grimmest moments of her difficult life story levity in this hopeful, spunky sister to Angela's Ashes."- Publishers Weekly

Maura Murphy's memoir of life in Ireland and beyond resonates with the people, places, and struggles of an almost forgotten generation. Born "chronically ugly and cross as a briar" into a poor, rural homestead in 1920s Ireland, Maura faced adversity from birth. She grew up in the bogs of the ...

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2005 Hardcover First Edition; First Printing New in As New dust jacket 0312337914. 8vo 8"-9" tall; 400 pages.

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Don't Wake Me at Doyles: A Memoir

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Overview

"Murphy's skillful storytelling and optimistic spirit give even the grimmest moments of her difficult life story levity in this hopeful, spunky sister to Angela's Ashes."- Publishers Weekly

Maura Murphy's memoir of life in Ireland and beyond resonates with the people, places, and struggles of an almost forgotten generation. Born "chronically ugly and cross as a briar" into a poor, rural homestead in 1920s Ireland, Maura faced adversity from birth. She grew up in the bogs of the Irish countryside and left school at fourteen for Dublin, working in service there until her marriage to a hardworking but hard-drinking womanizer. Poverty stricken and hoping to find a better life for her five young children, she left Ireland with her family for 1950s Birmingham, England.

But life doesn't always change when places do, and Maura's fear that she'd be "waked" at Doyles bar upon her death is funny but dead serious. Her voice is feisty and fearless, and she needed to be all those things to survive an extraordinary series of privations and abuses. And now, seventy-five and having survived her childhood, recovered from cancer, and left her marriage of fifty years, Maura has finally recorded the story of her life. Don't Wake Me at Doyles is the compelling account of a life set against by bad odds and worse luck: a memoir of survival and success in the face of the limits of class, education, nationality, religion, gender, and even health.

A fearlessly honest writer, Maura invites us into her world, through her destructive marriage, and the birth of her nine children, and towards a life-or-death choice that would change her forever. Told with biting wit, Don't Wake Me at Doyles is a personal story of one woman's endurance, and the remarkable memoir of an ordinary woman's extraordinary life.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Lovely memoir of a roving life, full of dread and great affection. Murphy ("a cross little weasel") was born into privation and poverty that are still with her after 75 years. Yet the memories held in these pages resound not with bitterness, but with spunk and wonder. Her story starts innocently enough, in Ireland after WWI, with tales of gypsies and card-playing, singing and superstitions, rituals and herbal cures, carbolic soap and childhood mortality, and concocting sins for confession. The author creates for readers a deeply atmospheric world, hard but vital. There came a time when her mouth was one too many to feed, and she had to make her own way in the world. She met a man at a dance (a venue for socializing that gives the period a very specific gravity), got pregnant, got married. And she stayed in that marriage, to a man who would cheat on and beat her: maybe because she was Catholic, maybe so that her nine children would have a semblance of family, maybe because she just thought it was the right thing to do. Security would not be the couple's fortune. Seeking domestic employment, they were footloose; twice the children had to be sent into foster care when their mother was sick and their father too feckless to care. They endured evictions and bailiffs smashing the furniture, episodes of English bigotry toward the Irish, many nights when they were lucky to have scallions, bread, and margarine for dinner. Their children had to grow up fast, learning to dodge the stinging familial bullets amidst the throat-tightening displays of love and protectiveness. Threaded throughout the narrative, gnawing like a rat, is the lung cancer whose discovery, in 1999, led the author to leave herhusband and their by-then 50-year marriage. When it's "time to shove off," as she says, you'll want to be there to lend Murphy a hand onto any coach of exit she chooses. Agent: Mary Pachnos/Gillon Aitken Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312337919
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/2/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 406
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Maura Murphy was born in Clongmore, Country Offaly, in 1928. She left Ballybryan National School when she was fourteen with "no qualifications and even fewer prospects." She worked as a domestic servant in various houses in Dublin until she met and married John Murphy, a soldier stationed at Portobello Barracks. The couple moved to Birmingham, England, in 1959 where they reared nine children. They have eleven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Maura now lives in Birmingham, England, in the West Midlands.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2006

    Dreadful Book

    You dont finish school, you have to get married because you get pregnant, your husband is a looser, a wife beater and a drunk, you go on to have nine children that both you and your husband abuse, you smoke like a chimney, you are constantly getting evicted, your children get placed in state care, you get them back, they get into trouble with the law. I finally decided i had to post a review while reading page 321, the author describes her son 'At seventeen, he broke the post office window when he tried to collect his dole money.He flew into a rage when they wouldnt cash his giro. then he took his temper with him to Bournville College and turned the tables over when he went to enroll for his A levels. I think his intolerence was caused by the pain he suffered with his ears' Hello!!! could it be the parents who messed up??? she goes on to blame her parents, husband, the catholic church, being irish, the british council, the british schools etc, etc for all her other problems. God save us from the likes of this lady!! The worst book i have read in along time. I am amazed it was ever published.

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