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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muriel is about to be released into the community
First published in 1986, this novel continues the story of Muriel Axon from Mantel's debut novel, Every Day Is Mother's Day. If anything this is even more horrifying in terms of the events depicted. Like the earlier book, it is unremittingly bleak, black and scurrilously funny. Muriel is living in an institution for the insane, but is about to be released into the...
Published on 19 Oct 2009 by Eileen Shaw

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2.0 out of 5 stars A Wet Blanket
Every Day is Mother's Day' is an important novel that gives a powerful feeling of despair and psychological illness. 'Vacant Possession' is a dreary continuation of the first novel, with elements of the thriller on a skeleton of improbable coincidences. It should have never been written. I have to wonder why Mantel thought it was necessary. I think she cheapened the first...
Published 8 days ago by Joseph Balletti


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muriel is about to be released into the community, 19 Oct 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
First published in 1986, this novel continues the story of Muriel Axon from Mantel's debut novel, Every Day Is Mother's Day. If anything this is even more horrifying in terms of the events depicted. Like the earlier book, it is unremittingly bleak, black and scurrilously funny. Muriel is living in an institution for the insane, but is about to be released into the community. She is already learning how to fare more successfully on the outside, this time. Still illiterate, maladroit, cunning, and as mad as a bucket full of starved snakes, she is picking up expressions, mannerisms, new words and new abilities. She has a plan, the first part of which is fooling the luckless family that moved into the house she used to share with her mother into taking her on as their cleaning lady.

It's not necessary to have read Every Day Is Mother's Day, but to be honest, it would be useful. Muriel Axon is one of the creepiest, wickedest characters to have ever been created. To come upon her fully-fledged, so to speak, might be too much of a shock. You also need to know what happened to her mother - and her child. Hilary Mantel has here over-egged every pudding with a gleeful sense of - well, why the hell not? The result is pure evil. Mesmerising.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Muriel has returned, 16 Mar 2010
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Paula Mc (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
`Vacant Possession' is the sequel to `Every Day is Mother's Day' by Hilary Mantel.

`Vacant Possession' begins 10 years after the events at the Axon's house which ultimately led to Muriel being placed in Fulmers Moor in the Greyshott Ward as part of her rehabilitation to eventually return to society, which she does, but Muriel has changed, she can now mimicry (mimic) and is a mistress of disguise, one of Muriel's hidden traits is that she watches people and for ten years she has been watching everyone in Greyshott Ward.

Colin Sidney is now living in the Axon's old house, his sister Florence still lives next door, his wife, Sylvia has reinvented herself, she has become more confidence, more sociable. Isobel Field is now married and no longer a social worker, everyone is living their lives but unknown to them, Muriel is amongst them.

`Vacant Possession', I felt was the stronger of the two books, you find out more about Muriel and also how devious (and scary) she is, with `Vacant Possession', you find out the lengths which Muriel will go to, to get her revenge.

An interesting read.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, riveting and entertaining, 26 Nov 2006
By 
M. Johnson "Hunter" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
I have read this book over and over. Its bleak, horrific and oh so funny. Muriel is a disturbing character, self-preserving and understandably vicious, but the comedy shines through, making the novel unforgettable. I never undertand why Hilary Mantel is not more acclaimed as an author - she is needle-sharp.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars re-reader, 20 April 2010
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
I agree with the other reviewer who says she re-reads this novel. I cannot quite believe that I started to read it again immediately I had finished it ... it's THAT good.

I don't agree with the reviewer who says you'll laugh yourself silly, though. To me, it's not a LOL type book ... but what you WILL do is feel impressed and entertained by Mantel's amazing ability to get inside family life and greater social issues at the same time.

Her prose is fabulous. There is at least one jewel of observation and impeccable expression on every single page, and one of my reasons for re-reading was to absorb their subtlety again once I had the "narrative and character" in my head.

Another reason for immediate re-reading was to enjoy the weaving of (multiple) characters and plots that Mantel has constructed here. On the one hand it is absurdly inter-woven, but on the other hand it works and adds to the comedic effect of the whole. These poor souls' lives intersect in a range of contexts and offer a fascinating range of perspectives on British society.

I would strongly recommend reading Every Day is Mother's Day before you read this, just to increase your enjoyment of this novel, though I am sure it would stand alone, it's better when you know what happened ten year's earlier.

In both novels Mantel casts a penetrating eye on the horrors of Thatcher's Britain and our social "care" programmes in Britain but with a delicate, never didactic touch. A real treat!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just discovered, 8 Jan 2013
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M. D. Ripley "Mike Ripley" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
Why had I not discovered Hilary Mantel before "Wolf Hall"? A fabulous writer: smart, literate and funny. Am thoroughly enjoying discovering her backlist.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Wet Blanket, 17 Dec 2014
This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
Every Day is Mother's Day' is an important novel that gives a powerful feeling of despair and psychological illness. 'Vacant Possession' is a dreary continuation of the first novel, with elements of the thriller on a skeleton of improbable coincidences. It should have never been written. I have to wonder why Mantel thought it was necessary. I think she cheapened the first novel by taking away all of its mystery and subtlety.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very clever story-telling ..., 17 Jun 2014
By 
Patricia M. Sheldon (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Kindle Edition)
... but ends on a cliffhanger! Mantel cleverly weaves storylines back and forth through time but I was rather surprised when, as my Kindle told me I was only 90% of the way through this book, it ended with many of the characters in jeopardy or about to do something unwise. She has good insights into the minds of vulnerable people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service, 2 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
First time I have bought used book, so was wary about what might turn up. Perfectly readable, no notes in the book, and if you don't mind the ex library look - plastic cover, slightly off white pages - then you will be pleased.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Human Nature, 21 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Vacant Possession (Kindle Edition)
I am a big fan of Hilary Mantel - I first discovered her with 'A Place of Greater Safety' which over the years I must have re-read several times. Unlike many successful authors Ms Mantel seems to have more than two or three really good books in her canon. This one I think is skilfully deployed but not to her highest standard. The subtle way in which she observes human frailty is engaging and amusing with of course the darker side which we see in works like Beyond Black.

This is a good read by a skilled author but compared with the recent Henrician novels which have rightly made her rich and famous, it is mid range - but still worth it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak satire, 20 Nov 2012
This review is from: Vacant Possession (Paperback)
I saw this book as a satire on the Welfare State. Mantel is merciless in her depiction of social workers,GPs, hospitals,teachers,people who work in DSS offices,people who live on the dole,etc. All people peculiar to the eighties and still around in the second decade of the twenty-first century. I found the description painfully true, with no nice people. There are patches of brilliant humour. There is the passage where the main character's senile mother,who has royal delusions, scolds her son for his affair with 'Mrs Ernest Simpson'. Mantel has obviously met a lot of the same people and been in the same places I encountered in the eighties. If a Martian wants to know what we were like,he can read this. The humour, of the Sue Townsend variety,is not quite enough to make me love this book,but it is intermittently a work of genius, with some depressing parts which are too true to be comfortable.
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Vacant Possession
Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel (Paperback - 16 Jan 2006)
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