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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 October 2015
This was the first book by Hilary Mantel I read, about two decades ago; it remains my favourite of all her novels and is perhaps her most approachable and accessible work. It follows the fortunes of three school friends during their early years at a northern Catholic school and their first year at a London university in 1970 - the narrator Carmel, the cool and urbane Julianne and the insular, malignant Karina.

Although this book may lack the grand scope of the author's historical fiction, her prose is as wonderful as ever, with its dark humour and trademark gift for conjuring uniquely apt images - who could possibly forget her description of a purse zip being opened in a hushed shop as sounding "like God farting"? It's also perhaps the most accurate, insightful, painfully amusing portrait of childhood I have ever read; the hopes, the fears, the casual cruelties, the embarrassment at parents' foibles, the mixture of awe and contempt for teachers...many acclaimed authors falter when it comes to creating child characters, but Hilary Mantel does it brilliantly.

For anyone curious about Mantel's work, I'd suggest this as a great place to start. I can clearly remember pressing this book upon all my friends after first reading it, and twenty years on I still recommend it unreservedly.
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on 27 December 2014
This was my first time reading An Experiment In Love.

I thought An Experiment In Love was great. I loved Mantel’s novel. I thought An Experiment In Love perfectly captured the experiences of Carmel and her friends growing up in the 70’s. Carmel was a great, sympathetic character. I liked the fact Mantel doesn’t make a huge deal of her eating disorder and writes about it as if it’s just an aspect of Carmel’s personality. In a way it was, to Carmel anyway and I thought Mantel handled it really well. I liked the way Mantel brought the 70’s and Carmel’s life as a Catholic alive. Carmel, Karina and Julia’s friendship is very unhealthy and complicated. Mantel does a great job at bringing these three very different girls to vivid life and exploring the complexity of the bond between them. The ending of An Experiment In Love took me by surprise, pleasantly so. Mantel has become one of my favourite writers and An Experiment In Love reinforces my admiration.
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on 24 June 2015
Having much enjoyed Mantel's recent 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring up the Bodies', I was intrigued to pick up this earlier novel, tracing a young woman's journey through late adolescence into the realities of adulthood. Her depiction of London life as the 1960's turn to the 70's is highly evocative of the time, as those of us who were there can confirm, and the main characters she portrays weave a complex but intriguing web that meshes seamlessly into that world. The author has a penetrating intellect, and a wonderful ability to convey subtleties in her prose, and the story proceeds inexorably to its surprising conclusion. In typical Mantel style, even the title of the book has its own twist, as the reader will discover. This is a fine read, and I heartily commend it.
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on 30 September 2012
This is one of my favourite Hilary Mantel books so far. It is not necessarily a comfortable read though completely absorbing. She has, as always, incredible powers of description and the girls in this book, their awkwardness, what goes wrong and what goes right, are true to life and to a time, and one feels with them the awkwardness of being young adults but not adult enough sometimes. It unpicks the layers we build on our awkward beginnings and reminds the reader of that growing time. There is that pack mentality too that comes in group behaviour as well as the individual meanness of some, unexpected kindness of others. There is comeuppance and tragedy...and the book haunts you.
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on 13 April 2016
Got a bit bored - well written and enagaging, but not sure I was that 'captured' by what was being described.
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on 27 February 2015
A thoroughly enjoyable read, would recommend it ! The book arrived well within the time stated.
Would use this seller again.
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on 8 March 2015
captures the student environment of the time very well, and the sudden ending took me by surprise but was very well concluded.
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on 24 February 2015
Arrived when satated. Good condition no problems well pleased
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on 18 November 2014
H. M. never lets you down.
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on 3 October 2013
Don't dismiss this novel as just another story about girls growing up. There's a real sting in its tail, and hard questions to be asked about being eighteen and female in any culture.
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