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Fludd [Paperback]

Hilary Mantel
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010

From the double Man Booker prize-winning author of ‘Wolf Hall’, this is a dark fable of lost faith and awakening love amidst the moors.

Fetherhoughton is a drab, dreary town somewhere in a magical, half-real 1950s north England, a preserve of ignorance and superstition protected against the advance of reason by its impenetrable moor-fogs. Father Angwin, the town’s cynical priest, has lost his faith, and wants nothing more than to be left alone. Sister Philomena strains against the monotony of convent life and the pettiness of her fellow nuns. The rest of the town goes about their lives in a haze, a never-ending procession of grim, grey days stretching ahead of them.

Yet all of that is about to change. A strange visitor appears one stormy night, bringing with him the hint, the taste of something entirely new, something unknown. But who is Fludd? An angel come to shake the Fetherhoughtonians from their stupor, to reawaken Father Angwin’s faith, to show Philomena the nature of love? Or is he the devil himself, a shadowy wanderer of the darkest places in the human heart?

Full of dry wit, compassionate characterisations and cutting insight, Fludd is a brilliant gem of a book, and one of Hilary Mantel’s most original works.

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Fludd + A Place of Greater Safety + Beyond Black
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007172893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007172894
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,027 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


‘“Fludd” is a funny, exquisitely written story of priests and nuns in fifties England, but it is also a questioning, intellectual book that applies a profound thoughtfulness to various abtruse areas of religious (or supernatural) belief … A faultless comic masterpiece.’ Literary Review

‘Good morality tales are unusual; but rarer still are books that genuinely make you laugh out loud.’ Spectator

‘Hilary Mantel brings together the miraculous and mundane, the dreadful and the ridiculous in a novel of imagination and skill.’ Financial Times

‘In “Fludd”, Mantel draws on her own imagination, inventing a dark universe which works to laws of her own making. The effect is dazzling, and establishes her in the front ranks of novelists writing in English today.’ Guardian

‘An excellent and ambitious novel.’ Sunday 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
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of supernatural magic, perhaps 4 Sep 2003
The doleful, English, mill town of Fetherhoughton is the stage for this short, delightful novel, FLUDD, by Hilary Mantel. There are four principal players. Father Angwin, pastor of the Roman Catholic church of St. Thomas Aquinas, has lost his belief in God's existence, but determinedly continues to serve his flock while suffering the oversight of his idiot diocesan bishop. Miss Dempsey, his spinster housekeeper, lives in terror of a small wart above her upper lip, thinking it a portent of cancer. Sister Philomena, a nun teaching in the parish school, is an Irish girl forced by her family into the convent, where she endures the petty tyranny of its Mother Superior. Then there's FLUDD, a curate ostensibly sent by the obnoxious bishop to help Angwin modernize his pastoral approach. Or is he? Once Fludd is in residence, people begin to, um, transform.
The engaging aspect of this story is that the reader never understands the nature of the being called Fludd, a mystery also grazing Angwin's perception during his first meal with Fludd, when the former observed:
"Whenever (he) looked up at (Fludd), it seemed that his whiskey glass was raised to his lips, but the level of what was in it did not seem to go down; and yet from time to time the young man reached out for the bottle, and topped himself up. It had been the same with their late dinner, there were three sausages on Father Fludd's plate, and he was always cutting into one or other, and spearing a bit on his fork; he was always chewing in an unobtrusive, polite way, with his mouth shut tight. And yet there were always three sausages on his plate, until at last, quite suddenly, there were none."
Is Fludd a man, or something else. He can tell fortunes by looking at the palm of one's hand.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric 22 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the second book by Hilary Mantel that I have read, the first being Beyond Black. As before, I was drawn to the book not only because of the author but because of the subject matter - Mantel conveys a fascination for spiritualism in it's widest sense, a personal knowledge of Catholic traditions, and an ability to reveal underlying indosyncrasies that often go unseen. I particularly enjoyed the colourful descriptions of the town of Fetherhoughton in the first quarter of this book, which I recognised as being not too far from my own hometown. In fact, Mantel was raised in Hadfield in the North of England and based the book amongst the familiar cotton mills of the 1950s. Mantel's gentle humour pokes fun at the town's inhabitants, a dark place filled with secrets that lies in the shadows of the mill chimneys. But Fetherhoughton is far from being bleak despite the often dismal weather and local moors, as demonstrated when a mysterious cleric arrives at the door of the local clergy. What ensues is an eventual strengthening of local resolve and the reader cannot help but warm to the many characters portrayed.

I loved this book and felt at home there. The interview with Mantel at the end, in which she describes the real-life events that led to the book's conception, is well worth reading too. And while the humour in the main is soft and flowing, there are two or three laugh-out-loud moments. Wonderful and highly recommended!
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautifully realised work by Mantel 14 Nov 2006
I love Mantel. And can't believe her books aren't better known. Her work is complex, and unlike anyone else I have read, she seems to embody the skills and stories of four or five different authors. Her books cross continents and eras, her writing veering from brutally real to entirely magical. Fludd is the shortest and one of her most likeable reads. The Yorkshire town, the smell of a fusty 1950's school gym, the fear of the unknown, the superstition of Christianity and the allusion to alchemy are all intertwined and beautifully evoked in this gem of a book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't realise that Hilary Mantel did comedy! 18 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My first experience of Hilary Mantel's writing, was reading Wolf Hall and I therefore assumed that she only wrote historical novels so I was delighted to read Fludd.

This is the story of a Priest, Father Angwin, who appears to have 'lost God', his Housekeeper and various and sundry Nuns at the local Convent. One day an edict is delivered to Angwin by the Bishop that some of the plaster saints in his church must be removed. This leaves the Priest, his Housekeeper and various villagers with a huge dilemma. Who to keep and who to bin and what to do with the losers. A plan is suitably thought up and the saints end up somewhere rather odd. Too much info here, would be a spoiler.

One day a mysterious Curate turns up, he is non other than Father Fludd who says that he has been sent by the Bishop to help Father Angwin out. The Nuns at the Convent are all a flutter at his arrival and in particular a young nun Philomena. The nuns in general are quite a beastly lot as they were in the '50's wielding rods of iron over their charges at the local Catholic school. The Mother Superior is a really well written character whose description by the author made me creep.

Towards the end of the book the mysterious issue of the statues arises again and with it also arises an issue between Philomena and Father Fludd! Woo Hoo. Well, perhaps not like that.

This is a really hilarious book with an incredible and rather eerie ending explaining where Father Fludd originally came from as he certainly wasn't sent by the Bishop.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars fludd
thought it was absolute rubbish. disappointed in hilary and cannot imagine what 'inspired' her to waste her talent. what a waste of time!
Published 18 days ago by angie
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, funny, compassionate, brilliant.
This could be my all-time favourite novel by probably my favourite writer. Mantel writes perfect prose with humour, humanity, insight and intelligence. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dymphna
5.0 out of 5 stars Fludd Hilary Mantel
Extraordinarily funny book - so different from the current historical works she is currently writing, but with the same evocation of a period and an atmosphere. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Barbara Laurie
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite reach its potential
An amusing early effort by Hilary Mantel. The prose is great and it's somewhat thought provoking but the characters are a bit limp and it lacks the atmosphere and punch needed to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by chemistrykaren
5.0 out of 5 stars She's good
I really like Hilary Mantel's writing. This book is a bit short and the story arc is a bit obvious but the world she creates is so enveloping and satisfying that I can't really... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Lovely Baby J
4.0 out of 5 stars Fludd
I like Hilary Mantel's writing and her love of words. This story revolves around a convent and its parish priests. It is a rather strange story. Read more
Published 8 months ago by katie
4.0 out of 5 stars Is he or isn't he?
I liked this book but not quite as much as I liked 'Beyond Black' and 'Wolf Hall', hence the 4 star rating. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nora Walters
4.0 out of 5 stars Gleefully grim
Gormenghast in the real world. Delightful characters and atmospheric descriptions. But who was Fludd.....Satanic or beatific? With tongue in cheek I would vote for beatific.
Published 9 months ago by M. C. Aireton
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Hilary Mantel masterpiece
There's a sense of place which is both spiritual and historical. Mantel has created a modern fable with twists and turns along the way
Published 11 months ago by Janet Helen Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun story
I enjoyed this, well written with well drawn characters. It became obvious that Fludd was not sent by the bishop but enjoyable to the end.
Published 11 months ago by purple_ocelot
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