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The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher Hardcover – 25 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (25 Sept. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007580975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007580972
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

Review

‘An exhilarating, if dark, collection … ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’ is a small triumph: a lesson in artfully controlled savagery’ Sunday Times

‘Remarkably good: taut, engaging and shocking … acutely observed’ Evening Standard

‘I would recommend the brilliantly chilling …The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher over most other long or short works this year.’ Telegraph, Books of the Year

‘What a fabulously nasty concoction Hilary Mantel has served up … It’s a fugu fish of a book; parts of which will leave you dizzily elated, while other parts may make you very ill indeed … The venom is distilled, bottled and dripped like slowly staining bitters into the cocktail of the entertainment … That title story, wickedly good, is alone worth the price of admission to the book’ Simon Schama, Financial Times

‘The best stories in the collection … combine sharp observation and sly wit with a subtle burrowing into the recesses of her protagonists’ heads. The darker stories recall both the metaphysical speculations of Jorge Luis Borges and the trickery of Roald Dahl’ Mail on Sunday

‘Infused with Mantel’s almost lush evocations of isolation and distress … All in all, these are alluring portraits of interior disquiet’ Observer

‘No one else quite sounds like Mantel in this vein, although a top-level summit of Muriel Spark and Alan Bennett might conceivably come close. Mantel takes absolutely nothing on trust. Bodies can, and will, malfunction; ditto minds, and marriages. Malice, power or simple chance may always undermine the ground beneath your feet’ Independent

‘These are the sticky slices of suburban noir that Mantel served up so well in her pre-Wolf Hall output and they never fail to deliver’ The Times

‘Much of Mantel’s glorious power comes from her unsentimental, forensic gaze and willingness to describe the uncomfortable … Mantel’s brutally dissecting eye is much in evidence here … Her prose is sublime … the glittering details exquisite’ Independent on Sunday

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

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By noc on 2 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover
What an unsettling, but very well-composed collection of stories! This was a very enjoyable read even if the stories were all connected by a sense of eeriness that could, at times, be quite disturbing. They are populated by various troubled, self-doubting or fearful women, damaged children and oblivious or inarticulate men. Themes of imprisonment, inhibited expression and inability to communicate deeply held anxieties are threaded throughout. The writing is accomplished and beautiful. The overall darkness is lifted by occasional gentle mischievousness but some of the stories touch on some very affecting themes from catastrophically low self-esteem, the pain of infidelity, unresolved longing for a child, anorexia, grief and, of course, assassination.

It's a concise book and nicely presented too (I have the hardback) with a cover-design that is very appropriate. I loved it and would recommend it highly to anyone who likes good writing and can stomach some underlying grimness.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 8 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of ten short stories written by Hilary Mantel between 1993-2014. They have all been previously published in newspapers or magazines and some have appeared in short story collections. They are extremely diverse in setting and nature. All but two are written in the first person and most (but not all) centre on women.

I should preface this review by saying that I have an inherent prejudice against short stories. Reading them always feels to me like speed dating - you put all this effort into wrapping your head around someone new and then they are yanked away from you and you have to do it all over again. They also highlight - to me - what a lazy reader I am. I kept finishing a story, realising that I simply hadn't been paying enough attention and having to backtrack to look for the clue about what was going to happen.

What I did like, very much, about this collection is the wonderfully descriptive way that Mantel immerses you wherever she wants you. There is one story about a writer arriving at an unpleasant hotel late at night and you can just feel how sordid and grubby the rooms are. Another story, Comma, is about two girls who roam the countryside around their homes and spy on their neighbours and once again you absolutely feel the heat, the tickly grass, hear flies buzzing lazily past. The Margaret Thatcher story is set in a genteel street in Windsor and I could see it in my mind, so beautifully was it described to me.

However to me this book felt like a triumph of style over substance. Again and again - ref description of myself above as a lazy reader and take note - unreliable narrator here! - I would finish a story and go "huh". Either "huh, didn't get it" or "huh, was that it?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hollieann Mullings on 7 Dec. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the most amazing books I've read, something for everyone in each short story. You also don't get confused or bored because the stories get into the storyline quickly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. Coombs on 5 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Witty. concise and clever. Excellent - and I don't particularly like short stories. Had to impose a rationing system.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having previously only read Mantel's Booker Prize-winning historical novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both of which I loved, I was intrigued to see how her rather slow-burning style in those books would convert to short, contemporary fiction. I'm pleased to say the answer is very well indeed - Mantel shows she is a mistress of this format just as much as the novel. Although the ten stories in this book weren't written specifically as a collection, there is a common theme that runs through them of women somewhat trapped in their lives, usually either by physical circumstances or by social constrictions; and several of the stories feel quite autobiographical in tone, giving the impression that Mantel has perhaps drawn heavily on her own experiences.

I was expecting beautiful writing and I was hoping for some moving, thought-provoking subject matter and the book has both in spades. What came as a surprise to me though was the rather wicked humour that appears in many of the stories - Mantel uses her keen observation of human nature to make us laugh out loud with the characters at some points, and at others traps us with a kind of wry cynicism into laughing at them. She brings an almost conspiratorial edge to some of the stories, where she and the reader know more than the narrator, allowing us to share a deliciously guilty feeling of superiority.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 May 2015
Format: Paperback
Superb stories in this collection, every one a winner for me. In The Long QT a marriage fails; in Winter Break there is a last devastating sentence that brings the reality of what has happened to a couple traveling to their isolated hotel for a holiday. In Harley Street there are variety of illnesses being treated by a cast of interesting doctors and technicians. But all of these stories are brilliant vignettes, dripping with venom and wit. Sometimes failures or successes are treated to an inside story, sometimes with a heartless despair, and sometimes with a feeling of justice. In one story a thuggish young man, left out of a ski trip by parents who can barely stand their own son, creates mayhem in their absence, injuring the person who has been left in putative charge. In another a woman sees her dead husband on a train, which being an express she cannot ever catch him up. If, indeed, it was him at all. And there is that last story, a plausible construction which puts the hatred that Margaret Thatcher so bleakly engendered to a fascinating Rocharsch test. Of course it is immoral to enjoy the story of her death, but I’m not alone in that, however much it also invokes a pitiable schaedenfreude.
These stories are brilliant, sharp, witty and often very dark. They exemplify a towering talent at the heart of English Literature. They are about children, adults, women and men. Her vitality and sublety, her range and control are so pleasing. She is the consummate writer, a great talent and a majestic gift to our literary world.
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