Tuesday 20 September 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue - Review

 As a parent you might pick up this book, read the blurb and think 'Maybe a bit too sinister and likely to render me a quivering useless wreck'.

Yes I know, not exactly a glowing review opening sentence but realistically, who would want to read about a teenage girl being kidnapped, held captive for years, being repeatedly raped, conceiving, giving birth in an outbuilding and bringing up a child in one single room? Well me apparently!

The concept of this book I thought was brilliant, very current and definitely appealing to a dark side of my personality. I was intrigued to see how the author would develop a plot, create narative and keep me hooked when there are essentially 2 characters and a single room. But she did.

The book is narrated by the son of the captive girl who describes his adventures and explores his world in a wonderfully innocent and beautiful way. He tells us about his world in such depth and colour that you would not possibly believe that it is just one room. But to him that is all he has ever known. No windows, just one door through which the night man comes and brings food and sunday treats and takes away rubbish. He has never seen the night man because when he comes he must hide in the wardrobe and wait there until Mama says he can come out.

As he grows, so does his curiosity and so does his Mama's anguish and depression. Yet there is hope. There is another world outside the room.

On occasion, the boys voice wasn't quite right and didn't fit a 5 year old. He used some very advanced vocabulary mixed with some niave words that just jarred for me.  But having said that, he isn't a normal 5 year old is he? And I much preferred the first half of the book to the second half, finding that it was just too offhand and not really believable. I did lose interest towards the end but the writing was excellent and a novel I would recommend, if only for the first half of the book!

I read this book as part of Dulwich Divorcee's Book Club! I look forward to the next interesting read!


  1. I read this book after being leant it by a colleague, its not the sort if book I normally go for as I find things I've read play on my mind for a loooong time LOL! But it was really well done and thought provoking. The media treatment of the boy and his mum was dreadful, but that's true to life unfortunately. I too would like to know more of what happened to them x

  2. Brilliant review! I think it's very true that the book became less compelling once they were free from the room, maybe because the element of danger had gone, maybe because it was hard to sympathise with the boy's nostalgia about the room, though I've read that does actually happen to people who've been held captive.... It did make me think of all the times my toddlers were driving me mad when we had the whole world to play in. Imagine bringing up a child in that space and staying anything like sane .... and as you've posted first, you get to choose our next book, any ideas? DDx

  3. Great review. I loved this book which I picked up on a whim. Like you the 1st half was exellent and then it changed when they got out.
    Brilliant read though :)

  4. I really cant say enough about this book. From the second i started reading this book i could not put it down. I have told everyone who will listen how amazing this book is. I have never written a review before, but because i could not get this book out of my head, i had to do this. I am so jealous of the person who gets to read this for the first time.


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