As she approaches midlife, Mantel applies her beautiful prose and expansive vocabulary to a somewhat meandering memoir. The English author of eight novels (The Giant, O'Brien; Eight Months on Ghazzah Street; etc.) is "writing in order to take charge of the story of my childhood and my childlessness; and in order to locate myself... between the lines where the ghosts of meaning are." Among the book's themes are ghosts and illness, both of which Mantel has much experience with. She expends many pages on her earliest years, and then on medical treatments in her 20s, but skips other decades almost entirely as she brings readers up to the present. At age seven she senses a horrifying creature in the garden, which as a Catholic she concludes is the devil; later, houses she lives in have "minor poltergeists." The first and foremost ghost, though, is the baby she will never have. By 20, Mantel is in constant pain from endometriosis, and at 27, after years of misdiagnosis and botched treatment, she has an operation that ends her fertility. Her pains come back, she has thyroid problems and drug treatments cause her body to balloon; she describes these ordeals with remarkably wry detachment. Fans of Mantel's critically acclaimed novels may enjoy the memoir as insight into her world. Often, though, all the fine detail that in another work would flesh out a plot-such as embroidery silk "the scarlet shade of the tip of butterflies' wings"-has nowhere to go.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This bleak memoir by a prolific British novelist recounts her upbringing in the North of England in the nineteen-fifties and sixties. Mantel's domineering stepfather has contempt for her intellectual aspirations and for her constant nausea and migraines. When, at college, she takes her symptoms to a doctor, he prescribes antidepressants and sends her on to a psychiatrist, who, in turn, suggests that she give up her studies to work for her mother selling dresses. Finally, at twenty-seven, she is diagnosed with severe endometriosis. Her uterus is removed, and hormone replacements cause extreme weight gain. For most of her life, she has struggled with emaciation, but strangers increasingly assume she is pregnant, now an impossibility. While Mantel's prose shimmers with suppressed anger, the reader might have preferred a story more plainly shaped, and one that gave some sense of the growth of her remarkable imagination.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hilary Mantel is one of the best writers I have ever read. Her memoir is sensitive, honest, but also subtle and deeply dignified.Published 1 month ago by Julie Miller
I generally love her books, but didn't particularly like this one. I d9 like her dark sense of humor and I appreciate that she perhaps needed to write it, but I felt a bit put off... Read morePublished 1 month ago by marlene brannon
I love her books,particularly this one. It enthralled from start to finishPublished 2 months ago by carol brunton
This is an excellent frank account of childhood with its misunderstandings and later medical misunderstandings. Beautifully written. I could not put it down.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I expected less ambiguity and more of her straightforward story telling. But maybe that's expecting a lot from a memoir. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Joan Torres
What can I say about Mantel? Her memoir poignant and funny in equal measure. She could write a bus timetable and make it hugely enjoyable!Published 8 months ago by rosaline monaghan
Mantel is a wonderful writer, able to illustrate how a very strange, even difficult childhood could produce such a mastery of word and image as she possesses. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mary Greenly