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The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher [Hardcover]

Hilary Mantel
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Sep 2014

A brilliant – and rather transgressive – collection of short stories from the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’.

Hilary Mantel is one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed writers. In these ten bracingly subversive tales, all her gifts of characterisation and observation are fully engaged, summoning forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday façades. Childhood cruelty is played out behind the bushes in ‘Comma’; nurses clash in ‘Harley Street’ over something more than professional differences; and in the title story, staying in for the plumber turns into an ambiguous and potentially deadly waiting game.

Whether set in a claustrophobic Saudi Arabian flat or on a precarious mountain road in Greece, these stories share an insight into the darkest recesses of the spirit. Displaying all of Mantel’s unmistakable style and wit, they reveal a great writer at the peak of her powers.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (25 Sep 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0007580975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007580972
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 2.6 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146 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

‘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 … In the short stories, the venom is distilled, bottled and dripped like slowly staining bitters into the cocktail of the entertainment … When she summons voices and paints urban scenery … Mantel is perfection … Throughout the collection, the voices … are all perfectly pitched … 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

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
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The long and the short of it. 9 Oct 2014
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I find that much of today's literary fiction is as padded as a North Face jacket so short stories should - in theory, at least - appeal to me. And yet they don't. No sooner do you get into the characters then they're whipped away from you. And then there's the obligatory sting in the tail. So often this seems contrived; as though the story was written simply to accommodate the ending.

Short stories by Hilary Mantel though. These should be a different kettle of fish altogether, I thought. Perhaps they will convert me. And yet they didn't. My fault I'm sure, but I failed to see the point of them and I found the female narrators extremely waspish throughout which made me wonder if Ms Mantel is perhaps herself a rather prickly character. (Though I refuse to think ill of her because I have been an adoring fan ever since 'A Place of Greater Safety', with 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring Up the Bodies' two of my favourite books of all time).

One story stood out for me: 'How Shall I Know You?' about an author who gives a book reading and then has to endure a night at a ghastly hotel "four storeys high with two surprised attic windows". But otherwise and despite all the exquisite phrase-making, I didn't really care for this collection. If Hilary Mantel's short stories don't do it for me, then short stories don't do it for me - full stop. Mea culpa.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curates Egg 14 Oct 2014
Format:Hardcover
Patchy. Sorry To Disturb & Comma are very good, evocative,and with a sense of completion about them. Too many of the others are quite interesting, but don't really seem to go anywhere. For genre readers some of the others (I'm looking at you, Harley Street, in particular) have an obvious denouement, and they never really lift themselves above their concept. The title piece is eminently enjoyable (how could it not be), but doesn't really make much sense. Still, it's a light, easy read, with a couple of very strong parts, not a bad effort really.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
‘The only disappointing thing I can see about this book is that the title isn't true!’ is how one reader commented about Hilary Mantel’s newest book The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. I don’t know what he is insinuating at but it pretty well sums up the general mood about this collection of short stories which is quite unlike the author’s earlier books Bringing up the Bodies, Wolf Hall, A Place of Greater Safety, Fludd and Beyond Black.

Beautifully written, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel is a collection of short stories which will be relished by many readers but loathed by some on account of its title story. Some of the stories are truly well-imagined and executed to perfection by the author. Though a collection of short stories, Hilary wordplay, humor, penetrating observations and characterization make the stories come alive through the pages of this delightful book.

I’m particularly fascinated by some of the stories, including "Sorry to Disturb" which is set in Saudi Arabia during the 1980s. It is about a Pakistani businessman Ijaz’s unwelcome visit to the married narrator's flat in Jeddah after she lets him in one day to use her phone. It is outrageously funny and a real delight to read. Then there is "How Shall I Know You?" which is about a writer travelling to a small town to attend a book club reading. The young girl who attended to her in the hotel evoked both disgust and sympathy at the same time. “The Heart Fails Without Warning” is a distressing read about a young anorexic. The title story "The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983" is about an IRA assassin whom a wealthy woman has mistaken for a plumber, and who wants to use the window of her flat to take a shot at Margaret Thatcher.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed in this 21 Oct 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was disappointed in this, having loved all the historical books of Hilary Mantel's, I don't think her short stories are particularly original,more rehashes of Saki and Dahl who did it better. They were creepy but not in an attractive way. The publisher has obviously gone for the shock factor in the title, but the book was a let down
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously spiteful 12 Oct 2014
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I never thought I would want to connect the two words put together in my title, but this is what this well crafted collection of short stories offers.

Mantel perfectly understands the trajectory of the short story, and each one is excellently crafted. In fact, the collection as a whole is contained by the first story, Sorry To Disturb, hooking to the last, title story.

Sorry to Disturb is set in Saudia Arabia in 1983, the story of a British woman (a reflection of Mantel herself) having to come to terms with life in that society, where she and her husband are now living. It has some similarities to Mantel's novel with a similar setting, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street. In this edgy, claustrophobic story, where all `outsiders' struggle to exist within new norms, reference is made to the 1983 election which returned Thatcher to power:

"Thursday June 9th...........When we turned out the light, the grocer's daughter jigged through my dreams to the strains of `Lillibulero'. Friday was a holiday, and we slept undisturbed till the noon prayer call. Ramadan began. Wednesday June 15th: Read The Twyborn Affair and vomited sporadically'."

The end plate story posits the assassination, and the timing of this story, I noted, coincides with the narrator of the first story and her husband being back in the UK on leave.

Almost every story is dark, nastily funny, and with a lethal sting in its tail. And perhaps unusually, as I could not resist reading this straight through, I didn't second guess the wraps, which managed to be both surprising and satisfying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not at her best
I do not think short stories are Hlary Mantel's metier. I couldn't see the point of the title story. Presumably she needs a longer story to get underway.
Published 8 hours ago by anne armstrong
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Intriguing, a surprise after Cromwell
Published 15 hours ago by Chris Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
spot on
Published 4 days ago by disturbed
2.0 out of 5 stars Short of money whilst she works on the 3rd part ...
Short of money whilst she works on the 3rd part of the Cromwell trilogy? Only an established author could get away with treating her readers in this way, with a collection of short... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Philip
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All things short stories should be.
Published 6 days ago by Susie Flintham
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great service and product!
I'm quite satisfied and will shop with the seller again.
Published 6 days ago by T A Falade
2.0 out of 5 stars these seem pretty pathetc to me
As short stories, these seem pretty pathetc to me.
Published 7 days ago by Mr. K. Charnock
5.0 out of 5 stars Great. There really is nothing I can add to what has already been...
Great. There really is nothing I can add to what has already been said. Loved it.
Published 7 days ago by Polly
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
exquisite
Published 9 days ago by tiger lily
2.0 out of 5 stars but finding it very tedious and unsatisfactory
I am struggling through this book, but finding it very tedious and unsatisfactory. Several of the stories just seem like a collection of clever words and sentences strung... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Amazon
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