Saturday, 6 June 2009

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is another of the authors who I have discovered this year, or perhaps rediscovered. I came across her a few years ago (I think courtesy of the Times/WHI Smith book offer when I got her autobiography for 99p). Giving up the ghost is an amazing story of how Mantel overcame mistreatment by the medical profession, and also had a hugely interesting life in Saudi Arabia and Africa. In fact, now that I think back to the book I can see very much its influence on the rest of her writing. The thing that I find astounding about Mantel is her ability to not be pinned to genre; she has written so widely that each book is completely different, a refreshing change in a world when successful authors stick to formulaic writing. I next read Experiment in love, which appealed to me because it is a coming of age story about three girls who go to university in the 1970s. After that I didn't read any more of her books until earlier this year. I came across Beyond Black which is a deeply unusual story about a psychic touring psychic fairs around London and really enjoyed such a novel tale. After that I think I read Change of climate, a sort of family saga. I then went onto Every day is mothers day, about a social worker, and a mother and her half-witted daughter, and completely different yet again, Eight months on Ghazzah street which is the story of an expat wife coming to grips with living in Saudi Arabia. I love the way in which every book is just so different and new to other things she's written.
There's still a lot of Mantel that I haven't yet encountered. I've got The giant, O'Brien on my tbrbc, which is set in the 18th century, and she's just brought out Wolf Hall, another historical novel. A place of greater safety is also set in the past, during the French Revolution. I'm also desperate to read Vacant possession, which is a sequel to Every day is mother's day - I want to see how Mantel handles writing a sequel and sticking to a theme that she's already written about.
I honestly can't think of another author who transcends genre quite so completely, although I'm willing to be corrected. The only downside is that having loved several of her novels so much, I can't get more of the same.


  1. I've just stopped by to have a peek at your blog. Just love reading about other people's book purchases and towering TBR piles so I'm glad to see that you fit the bill! I also love baking WAY more than cooking. Wolf Hall sounds like an interesting read doesn't it. A few weeks ago I listened to Mantel being interviewed about this book on a podcast.

  2. Thanks for popping in. I plan to do some baking when I get in from work tonight, so there'll be some cakey pics tomorrow :) You're right, baking is so much nicer than cooking - I'm adventurous with my cakes, but we almost always eat a variation on pasta for dinner!

  3. Finished Wolf Hall last week, it was wonderful, can't wait for the sequel.

  4. I have Beyond Black waiting on my TBR pile - it sounds like a really interesting read. Just waiting to find the time to fit it in!

  5. Hi Karen and Zetor, thanks for popping by. Beyond Black is well worth a read, and I am looking forward to getting my hands on Wolf Hall, maybe after Vacant Possession.


Do leave a comment - I love to hear from people who read my blog.