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Eight Months on Ghazzah Street [Paperback]

Hilary Mantel
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1997
When Frances Shore joins her engineer husband in Jeddah she is warned not to ask questions. But bored, she begins to speculate about her neighbours and the empty flat above her. At first she believes the flat is being used as a lover's tryst - then she suspects something more sinister.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Owl Books (NY); Reprint edition (July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805052038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805052039
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,950,616 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

‘Horrifyingly gripping. It urges the reader to suspend normal life entirely until the book is read.' Grace Ingoldby, Sunday Times

'A peculiar fear emanates from this narrative: I dread to think what it did to the writer herself.' Anita Brookner, Spectator

'A Middle Eastern Turn of the Screw with an insidious power to grip.' Robert Irwin, Time Out

'A memorably appalled and hellishly funny novel.' Christopher Wordsworth, Guardian

'A stunning Orwellian nightmare.' Literary Review

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
With remarkable understatement, a fellow airline passenger tries to prepare Fran Shore for her life as an expatriate wife in Saudi Arabia. A cartographer by profession, she is told, "You're redundant. They don't have maps." As Mantel unfolds the action, and lack of action, which take place in the apartment complex and in the business community, Fran cannot help but try to create mental maps, to make sense of the culture that has enveloped her.
Bored and frustrated, she is unable to discover what is really happening in the "empty" flat upstairs, unable to understand the lives which her devoutly Muslim female neighbors accept as completely normal, and so overwhelmed that she wonders, "Am I visible?" And that, perhaps, is the point. She IS visible in a heavily veiled world, destined never to comprehend fully either the daily lives or culture of her hosts, a culture within which she has tried, unsuccessfully, to maintain her own values.
The ending of the novel is full of mystery, as much a mystery as the events Fran has encountered in the eight months she has spent on Ghazzah Street. She is forced to accept at last the comment of an Arab acquaintance, "The Kindgom is not a logical world, and besides, logic is not an ornament of young ladies." Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I just re-read this book after a gap. The first time I loved the dark comedy (especially the dreadful expats and the dinner party scene - go Saudiflon!). The second time I found it completely terrifying. The atmosphere of choking claustrophobia built up and up and up and was really menacing.

In our book club though, 7 out of 8 people didn't notice the first page of the book, the Turadup memo from the awful Eric begging people to keep calm about the Turadup deaths this week, which tells you at the start that someone is going to die. The book itself is actually a long flashback to when they arrive, ten months before (eight months on Gh St and two months more marooned outside the city, where the book stops). So you know from the start that someone's going to die, and you wonder if it's Frances and Andrew, and then at the end it obviously is. But most of the book club readers didn't notice or remember that first page and didn't see the chronology, because HM gives the Hijri month names, not the Western calendar names. I lived in the Middle East for years (as I suspect did most of the people who love this book, because the atmosphere is so absolutely right, and the authoritarianism and the secrecy) so the Hijri month names didn't bother me - I could see the time sequence - but I think it may just not be clearly enough signalled. And if you don't know that they are going to die, the book seems purposeless.

So while the book worked for me, and I love it, it didn't work for quite a lot of others.

Very crucial page, that first page!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hilary mantel 20 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hilary mantel is a superb writer, feels like i was in the kingdom with them, I want to read everything she has written
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting! 25 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Started brilliantly but as the story progressed it took on a chilling air. It was very memorable and actually haunted me for some time. Good read though!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was it only eight months? 28 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A mystery slowly unravelled by the heroine despite the strictures of the culture she finds herself living in. The reader is asked to share the minutae of her life and does so willingly as the prose is entertaining.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really a novel 6 Mar 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an ordinary reader, unlike the professional critics, I found this 'novel' disappointing. I had bought it because I'm an ex-pat myself stationed in Singapore and I wanted to see what a posting in Saudi Arabia would be like. As a journalistic exercise, it told me everything I wanted to know - the claustrophobic lifestyle and lack of freedom a warning to any European against going there. As a novel, however, it has no arc and plods along, 80% of the story taken up wih turgid dialogue debating the pros and cons of Saudi life. Only a sinister empty flat upstairs stirs up some mystery, a mystery that is never resolved.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stays with you 2 Jan 2013
By Almond
Format:Paperback
I love this book. I first read it many years ago, not having heard of Hilary Mantel. It is very atmospheric and stayed with me for a long time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 28 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well it's by Hilary Mantel, what else would you expect! I particularly love the way she conjures up what it's like to be a Western woman in the Middle East, and the aura of dark mystery that she is so good at.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars re Eight months on Ghazzah Street
I didn't think it was particularly well written, also at times repetitive, and on the whole I can't say I enjoyed it.I would not be recommending it.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Pam West
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable
Don't be looking for a thriller with a proper ending - because you won't find it here - but what you may find is horror and anger and shared frustration and, sadly, the depressing... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Grainne Simms
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and chilling
An extraordinarily good novel from an extraordinarily good novelist. I'd read all her other books before I came to this: it is beautifully written, a chilling and gripping story -... Read more
Published 3 months ago by amanda
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery and intrigue in Saudi Arabia
Ms Mantel's books are always brilliant, so far in my reading of her works I have always been glued to the pages with her intriguing story telling and characters. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Frances Green
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Not of the same epic proportions as Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (desperate for the third part of that trilogy) but as ever, she writes a story full of real characters that... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Pauline Garnett
4.0 out of 5 stars eight months on ghazza street
I never grasped before the dreadful story of women in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes it takes a good novel to make it real and immediate.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. E. M. Lauret
4.0 out of 5 stars Let me out!
A wonderful book, with all the claustrophobic qualities of Kafka, but in a real setting. The main character swims through a quagmire of lies, subterfuge and irrationality while... Read more
Published 9 months ago by ChicChantal
5.0 out of 5 stars Mantel is God
Brilliant story. I plan to read everything this woman writes. She can make boredom exciting and teases out human emotion so beautifully without a hint of sentimentality.
Published 11 months ago by PalmaViolet
4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning story
One of my favourite authors and a chilling story. I have recommended this to loads of my friends - particularly those who are going to the Middle East.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs S.J. Dixon
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