My Life as a Girl In a Men's Prison


222 pages
ISBN 0-316-72463-7
DDC 823'.914




Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is managing editor of the Canadian HR Reporter.


This loosely linked collection of stories examines love, sex, families,
and—in several selections —the relationships between prisoners and
those on the outside. It would not be fair, however, to say that these
stories are about prison life, since the depiction of life in jail is
oddly calm and carefree, perhaps because it is seen only by daughters,
wives, girlfriends, and others who remain outside except on visiting
day. Rather, Pullinger views those rare relationships that follow
criminals into jail, as well as the even rarer ones that begin there and
follow them out again. There are other subjects as well: a woman
witnessing a dreamy procession of trainspotters discussing philosophy in
a British rail station, or a young man’s experiences with sex and
abortion. But many of the stories lack development in character and
plot, or are cut off just as they begin to gather steam. The best pieces
in this collection are the longer ones: The final story, “Irises,” a
60-page tale about a college student in England who murders his American
girlfriend, is eventually released and has a relationship with another
woman, is both haunting and terrifying. When Pullinger gives herself
room, her stories are spellbinding.


Pullinger, Kate., “My Life as a Girl In a Men's Prison,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024,