Customer Review

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars See it through - it's worth it!, 31 Jan 2010
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This review is from: A Place of Greater Safety (Paperback)
If I had not been reading this book for a book club I would definitely not have read beyond the first 100 pages (of 872). As it was, the first half of the book was just about one of the most painful reading experiences of my life, not least because until that point there was more to read than had been read! There were so many people, places, shifts of tense and POV that I didn't know where I was. The lists of characters she gives for each section at the beginning says it all, but referring back became a further annoyance. To be honest, I stopped caring - but then there was the book club commitment. I kept going....

However, somewhere past the midpoint it started to get really interesting - characters and events started unfolding and falling into place, and became more than the sum total of their parts. Although I still didn't feel it was great writing, the research was detailed and the fiction so well observed it became compelling. The plot and main characters are well documented both historically and in other reviews so I won't go on about them. But I did want to say if anyone out there is having a problem with it - I've been there - and it's well worth seeing it through; Hilary Mantel shows such great insights into the complexities of human nature and events, making fact and fiction work skilfully together, without allowing the fiction to undermine the documented facts.

After I'd finished the book it was a relief to read that Hilary Mantel herself had echoed my sentiments; it was the first book she wrote and was rejected by publishers, and sat on a shelf for a few years. After success with later novels, she was asked to reveal whether she had a first unpublished novel lurking around, she said she nearly lied and said no - the rest is history.

Find yourself a book club! I'm now very excited about finding time to read 'Wolf Hall' (another mega sizebook); she recognises that she has developed her story telling skills considerably - and with the research skills and clarity in her observation of human nature that she has clearly always had - I can't wait. Meanwhile - I've ordered a few of the shorter ones.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Apr 2010 11:58:35 BDT
you must have read a different book to me!

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jun 2011 08:55:27 BDT
L. Quinn says:
Hi - Sorry, have only just seen this as I'm about to write a review of something else. If you have time (or remember) - I'd be interested to know in what respect it was such a different book for you. These differing views and experiences of books are something I've really enjoyed about book clubs.

Best, Linda
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