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An Experiment in Love [Kindle Edition]

Hilary Mantel
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Following ‘A Change in Climate’, this brilliant novel from the double Man Booker prize-winning author of ‘Wolf Hall’ is a coming-of-age tale set in Seventies London.

It is London, 1970. Carmel McBain, in her first term at university, has cut free of her childhood roots in the north. Among the gossiping, flirtatious girls of Tonbridge Hall, she begins her experiments in life and love. But the year turns. The mini-skirt falls out of style and an era of concealment begins. Carmel’s world darkens, and tragedy waits in the wings.

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Product Description


"With all its brilliance, its sharpness, and its clear-eyed wit, "An Experiment in Love" is a haunting book."--Margaret Atwood, "The New York Times Book Review"  "Mantel has several points in common with Graham Greene: she can make your flesh creep with horror and especially with the apprehension of it."--"New York Review of Books"  "Terrifically satisfying."--"Elle"

About the Author

Hilary Mantel is one of our most important living writers. She is the author of eleven books, including Beyond Black, which was shortlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize, and Wolf Hall, Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 585 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (6 May 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003LSSDX4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,357 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books , including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving up the Ghost. Her two most recent novels, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring up the Bodies have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize - an unprecedented achievement.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you wanting more 14 May 2003
By A Customer
Like the starving heroine, I was left wanting more by this enigmatic but excellent book. In an antidote to the usual "take three girls" formula, we follow the school and university careers of Carmel, Karina and Julianne, three pupils from a northern convent who all end up in the same grim University residence in London. Without ever becoming friends or understanding each other, the girls are thrown together into a penny-pinching student existence in their all-female enclave, playing out an ultimately tragic tale of envy, competition, appetite and self-denial.
The author obviously feels there is great injustice in the lives of these girls, and this gives her always excellent writing a particular energy. The flashbacks to the girls' schooldays, and the relationships between Carmel and Karina and their mothers, are particularly well done.
More than just a story, this book explores the broader themes of girls' education and ambitions, and how they can be thwarted both by society and by nature. Although the ending is downright strange and I really wanted to know more about some of the characters' motivations, I found this to be a truly original and compelling book.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carmel and Karina 18 Sept. 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Carmel is an ordinary little Catholic girl from a Lancashire mill-town when this novel opens. Her strong-willed mother has decided that she will be a friend to Karina, whose strange European mother and taciturn father mutter about cattle trucks. Karina is not ordinary. She has no gift for friendship and the relationship is something of a trial to Carmel. By the time they attend big school Carmel has moved on and begun making friends with more interesting girls. It is one of these, Julia, that she rooms with in the hostel that is the main setting when they get to University. Karina goes too, but lives a curiously self-sufficient and separate life from that of her peers. The one shocking act at the end brings Carmel's past relationship with Karina into focus once again. She now knows two very important things about Karina - but neither of them can be told to anyone else.

This is both a tragedy and a comedy. Mantel is very prescient about girls and their friendships, and about girls and their boys. There is much to enjoy in these pages and I found myself disappointed that this novel wasn't longer. Like her novel Beyond Black, this one too creates some wonderful characters, and in common with that novel it ends at a point that might also be a beginning. Her gift for storytelling is so strong that her created lives go on after the book has finished.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unsentimental Education 12 Sept. 2011
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A sometimes very funny, sometimes horribly poignant tale of a girl from working-class Lancashire trying to make her way as a law student at London University while haunted by her past, her memories of her parents' unhappy marriage and her experiences at convent school, and by a former schoolmate, Karina, who has followed her to London, moved into her hall of residence and constantly reminds her that she cannot break away totally from her past life. Mantel brings the claustrophobic life in a women's hall of residence vividly to life, and there are some memorable characters, ranging from the heroine Carmel's friend from convent school Julianne, a clever and sardonic girl from a wealthy background who can't really understand Carmel's poverty to the lovely, aristocratic Lynette, daughter of East European emigres (as is Karina, though Karina won't discuss this aspect of her past), the fanatically Christian Claire who turns out at heart to be a deeply good person despite her foolish side, and the dread Karina, sullen, silent, brooding vengefully. Mantel's descriptions of some aspects of university life (such as the student Labour club) and the awful institutional meals were hilarious. Coupled with this humour were some heartbreaking episodes: Carmel's growing anorexia, and the collapse of her relationship with her boyfriend, her accounts of her schooldays and the bullying she underwent at the hands of her mother, and her constant worries about money.

My only problem with the book was that the final scene almost felt tacked on from another novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the future 22 Jun. 2012
By Katharine Kirby TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
First published in the mid nineties, An Experiment in Love, is an acutely touching, beautifully written earlier work of the hugely acclaimed travel, fiction and especially well known as historical writer Hilary Mantel. Her descriptive powers are legend.

This is the story of Lancashire convent girl Carmel, dominated by a truly terrifying mother who famously `ran on wrath', an epithet which I think also applies to many post war women. As a school girl Carmel is condemned by proximity to befriend the chillingly self contained, sneering Karina, a stolid peasant like émigré from the Eastern Bloc whose chief purpose is to put others down and generally suck the life and soul out of all around.

Carmel observes her own life with an exquisitely wry humour. Her hen pecked beaten father with his jigsaw puzzles, model aeroplanes and cowed habits. Her own body and the trials she puts it through. Throughout, Carmel's phrases sing out and grip with recognisable reality. I loved her solemnly thinking: "My mother had heard this term `Oxbridge' and had begun to use it, and it was making me uneasy. I was afraid she thought it was a real place; when the time came, Oxford or Cambridge would not be good enough, only Oxbridge would be good enough for a daughter of hers." It can truly be wonderfully funny. I felt very much at home with the hierarchy, etiquette and snobbery, as I was a girl in the fifties/sixties too.

Karina glooms around Carmel throughout her schooling and even appears at the same `Tonbridge' University Hall, in London. Carmel chooses to study law; she is surprisingly determined and strong by then, even having a serious boyfriend at Glasgow University.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine read.
Having much enjoyed Mantel's recent 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring up the Bodies', I was intrigued to pick up this earlier novel, tracing a young woman's journey through late adolescence... Read more
Published 6 days ago by M BARNHAM
3.0 out of 5 stars What story?
Quite frankly - a bit boring and nondescript. After I finished reading it I wondered if I'd actually read anything (that memorable) and can't understand what all the fuss is about... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Phoober
3.0 out of 5 stars I did not love this book but I did not hate it either
I did not love this book but I did not hate it either, it was a very quick read, I read it in an afternoon, but I agree with other reviewers that Hilary Mantel is capable of much... Read more
Published 3 months ago by rueyclem
4.0 out of 5 stars captures the student environment of the time very well, ...
captures the student environment of the time very well, and the sudden ending took me by surprise but was very well concluded.
Published 3 months ago by P. N. Winfield
5.0 out of 5 stars An Experiment in Love.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, would recommend it ! The book arrived well within the time stated.
Would use this seller again.
Published 4 months ago by Dawn
5.0 out of 5 stars Good condition no problems well
Arrived when satated. Good condition no problems well pleased
Published 4 months ago by Ms. P. E. Hoath
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly thin and under-researched: Mantel is capable of much...
Mantel's two recent novels about Thomas Cromwell and his role in the court of Henry VIII have achieved so much fame that I thought it would be interesting to sample some of her... Read more
Published 5 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant story of life, love and the complexities of relationships
This was my first time reading An Experiment In Love.

I thought An Experiment In Love was great. I loved Mantel’s novel. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pamela Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable but a bit lacklustre
This is a good book and it's very readable, as you would expect from any work by Hilary Mantel. That said, it's definitely not her best work. Read more
Published 6 months ago by V. G. Harwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite but still a very good read - nothing from ...
A well written tale once again from Hilary Mantel. Not my favourite but still a very good read - nothing from the pen of Miss Mantel disappoints!
Published 7 months ago by SallyR
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