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Serious reading with light(ish) undertones. Unusual and Unnerving novel.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘It's a brilliant, extraordinary novel, and I found Alison an intensely moving creation. She inhabits a universe of cruelty, absurdity, terror and black comedy. She survives only through her own wit and her struggle towards the light.
It's a very funny book but it's also a very dreadful book in the most literal sense of the word: the novel's fabric pulses with dread, and you are on the edge of your seat hoping that Alison will survive. Beyond Black is a hugely ambitious, daring book about the nature of good and evil, and for me it is Hilary Mantel's most powerful novel to date.' Helen Dunmore
Praise for Giving Up the Ghost:
'Like Lorna Sage's BAD BLOOD, GIVING UP THE GHOST is a story of childhood that is also a piece of history. Hilary Mantel's self-portrait is a masterpiece of wit, but it conjures up a time and a place and an epoch of female experience with razor-edged sobriety. That past, so thoroughly vanished, is made to live again here – disclosed, cannily and heartbreakingly, as once it too yielded up its author's mind.' Rachel Cusk
‘What a remarkable writer she is. She is piercingly, even laceratingly observant, and every remembered detail has the sharpness of a good photograph. And yet for all its brilliance of detail and its black comedy the memoir is heavy with atmophere. It's a very startling and daring memoir; the more I read it the more unsettling it becomes.’ Helen Dunmore
‘I was riveted. It’s raw, it’s distressing and it’s full of piercing insights into a first-rate novelist’s mind.’ Margaret Forster
A stunning evocation of an ill-fitting childhood and a womanhood blighted by medical ineptitude. Hilary Mantel’s frank and beautiful memoir is impossible to put down and impossible to forget.
From the Back Cover
Alison Hart is a medium by trade: dead people talk to her, and she talks back. With her flat-eyed, flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, she tours the dormitory towns of London's orbital road, passing on messages from dead ancestors: 'Granny says she likes your new kitchen units.'
Alison's ability to communicate with spirits is a torment rather than a gift. Behind her plump, smiling and bland public persona is a desperate woman. She knows that the next life holds terrors that she must conceal from her clients. Her days and nights are haunted by the men she knew in her childhood, the thugs and petty criminals who preyed upon her hopeless, addled mother, Emmie. They infiltrate her house, her body and her soul; the more she tries to be rid of them, the stronger and nastier they become.
This tenth novel by Hilary Mantel, the critically acclaimed author of Giving Up the Ghost, is a witty and deeply sinister story of dark secrets and dark forces, set in an England that jumps at its own shadow, a country whose banal self-absorption is shot through by fear of the engulfing dark.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot of this book concerns Alison, a gifted but troubled psychic, with a horrific past - touring lacklustre psychic fairs on the ring road around London, offering comfort to the bereaved, passing on messages from the departed - All the while, coming to terms with her squalid, abusive upbringing and dreadful treatment at the hands of her prostitute mother and the squaddies and lowlifes who populated her early life and still torment her after their passing. Morris, her seedy spirit guide, is her departed link to the past she would rather forget.
Colette, her thorny assistant - plays a major part, sceptical and indifferent to her spectral tormentors - she grounds Alison firmly in reality with diets, timetables and a complete lack of sympathy. A host of sardonically characterised mediums and mystics give some comic relief and balance the intense horror of her childhood.
The key to this book is that it's not a thriller or a ghost story - its a beautifully written tale of facing up to your demons - alive or dead, Mantel writes with confidence and her prose is, at times, breathtaking. Her characters are well observed and she breathes life into the dead - Morris and his cronies are believable - horrible small time crooks, with nothing to talk about but the old days and why they can't get a good savaloy anymore. You also realise that the world that Alison inhabits is as dead as the one she can tap into.
My only criticism is a slightly slow 3rd quarter - that being said, once you read the last page, you will miss Alison - you might even miss Morris.
It's not about ghosts, it's about living people and how we get on, or not, in the world.
The writing is terrific. Alison's past is shocking and the book is very dark in parts, contrasting sharply with the humour which is frequently "laugh out loud" funny. Even though the subject matter is not one that I would usually care for I found I was swept along by the narrative and in particular by the relationship between the two women and the other psychics.
It is creepy and inventive but not sure if I actually enjoyed it!
This is a strange book. A mixture of satire, ghost-story, horror and comedy. The reason it works is that the two central characters are so real and compelling.
One of the great things about this novel is the way that Hilary Mantel treats the world of the medium. She gets a lot of comedy from it, but she never dismisses it entirely. Alison is part entertainer, part therapist and part artist. The art of mediumship it seems is very close to the art of the novelist. It involves imagination and empathy. But Alisons experience of the otherworld is more unsettling that she lets on to her clients and slowly her frightening "spirit-guide" and his friends close in on her until she is forced to confront certain secrets from her past.
This is the first Hilary Mantel that I've read, but after reading it, I've just ordered her entire back catalogue.
What I love the best is her descriptive writing. She describes a modern England that is dark and sinister and flat and stale, but because the writing is so beautiful she gives it a kind of glamour.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've loved some of this author's books, but I found 'Beyond Black' overlong, repetitive, quite nasty and frankly tedious. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kate Hopkins
Beyond black is where we go when we die, according to Alison the psychic at the centre of this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Terry Day
I would have discarded this after the first couple of chapters, but because Ms Mantel is an author of some repute I assumed it had to be going somewhere worthwhile so stuck with... Read morePublished 2 months ago by A. J. Hill
Bleak, dull, chaotic. well written but seemgly without any purpose. The plot is not structured. Deeply disappointed.Published 3 months ago by Valentina
Love HM's historical books re- team nearly all of then again as soon as I had finished them, however really struggled with this one (very depressing)Published 7 months ago by Jenni