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Beyond Black: A Novel (John MacRae Books) Hardcover – April 14, 2005
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
Instead of celebrating the mystical side of "sensitives," the people who travel England's contemporary psychic "fayre" circuit, Mantel (A Change of Climate, etc.) concentrates on the potential banality of spiritualism in her latest novel, a no-nonsense exploration of the world of public and private clairvoyance. Colette is a down-on-her-luck event planner fresh from a divorce when she attends a two-day Psychic Extravaganza, her "introduction to the metaphorical side of life." There, Alison, a true clairvoyant, "reads" Colette, sees her need for a new life—as well as her potential—and hires her as a Girl Friday. As Colette's responsibilities grow, and the line between the professional and the personal blurs, Colette takes over Alison's marketing, builds her Web site, plans for a book and buys a house with her. Colette also serves as a sort of buffer between Alison and the multitude of spirits who beleaguer her. (Alison's spirit guide, Morris, "a little bouncing circus clown," proves especially troublesome.) Mantel's portraits of the two leading characters as well as those of the supporting cast—both on and off this mortal coil—are sharply drawn. This witty, matter-of-fact look at the psychic milieu reveals a supernatural world that can be as mundane as the world of carpet salesmen and shopkeepers. (May)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Beyond Black is just thatso black it reaches beyond the dark and makes the unbelievable believable. A story that normalizes clairvoyance shouldnt work this well, but it does. Mantel discussed her own experiences with illness and ghosts in her memoir Giving Up the Ghost (2003), but this novel is pure fiction. A seedy sideshow of ghosts (at turns helpful, annoying, and evil), all-too-human characters, a British brand of humor, shrewd commentary on the state of the world, and rich prose make for convincing, if not always agreeable, reading. Although Alisons flashbacks never emerge clearly, they create some of the novels most painful scenes.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Over and over again, I encountered oddly hyphenated words in the middle of lines. I suppose these are the result of cutting-and-pasting the text as formatted for hard copy directly into digital without removing the hyphens where words broke at the end of lines. These frequent slip-ups are a distraction. And for several pages towards the middle of the novel, every few lines a couple of words run together without an intervening space, resulting in some ridiculous imagery which, again, distracts from the narrative.
This edition has let down Hilary Mantel and her readers.
I don't think that Colette should have even been in the book as she adds nothing and detracts a lot. Too much detail about the psychic trade, and most of all, an annoying, depressing certainty in which Mantel pontificates about the 'other side.'
I loved, 'An Experiment in Love', 'The Giant O'Brien' and 'Giving Up the Ghost' ; 'A Place of Greater Safety' was admirable but a bit slow. I've ordered more of her books though.