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Fludd Paperback – 4 Mar 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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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 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘“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

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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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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Hilary Mantel having been brought up in Glossop, it's a fair bet that the fictional Derbyshire mill town of Fetherhoughton derives in part from there. As filtered through the eyes of the local priest (and/or the narrator, more on that later) it seems almost like a fantasy locale, with the children from the neighbouring village of Netherhoughton (alt-world Hadfield?) playing with ouija boards in the aisle of the church.

The setting interested me particularly because Hadfield is the home of the Morris family. When first taken "up north" - how old was I? five or six, perhaps - I took one look at the steep cobbled streets and the dark terraced houses and declared, "It's like going back a hundred years in time."

The first part of the book sweeps along at a fair pace. The conflict between the modernizing bishop and the cantakerous whisky-drinking priest fuels the hope of mayhem to come. But by halfway the plot is running on fumes. The difficulty is that Mantel writes beautifully, but she has absolutely no clue about how to pace a story or control the reader's feelings and expectations. It's not that this is one of those plotless Booker Prize novels. It's supposed to have a plot - but the execution of that plot is utterly inept.

Here's what Ms Mantel seems to have intended. (Spoilers now.) The bishop forces the priest to get the idols out of the church so he buries them. Doing so causes an upset in the cosmic order, summoning a catalytic stranger called Fludd, under whose influence unresolved tensions are brought to a necessary snapping point. At a climactic moment, characters resolve to change their lives, the statues are unearthed and restored to the church, and a new and better equilibrium is attained.
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