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  1. The current lockdown was an ideal opportunity for me to read this very long novel. I had read the first two of the trilogy (Wolf Hall etc) and I knew how good the writing was. Even when you know the inevitable ending you are so engaged with Thomas Cromwell's multifaceted life. His occasional reminiscences of his young life in Putney and the bad treatment by his thug of a father are sometimes more vivid than the complexities of religion and politics in that era but that is inevitable. It is not a soap opera that Hilary Mantel has written.
  2. Readers who were entranced, as I was, by Hilary Mantel’s Booker-winning Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies may be interested in discovering her earlier fiction, which her publisher has decided to reissue and repromote. The blurb on the back of Every Day is Mother’s Day is – as happens more and more… do these blurb-writers ever read beyond the opening pages… ? – misleading, focusing exclusively as it does on the dotty Evelyn Axon and her mysteriously pregnant, educationally subnormal daughter, Muriel, holed up in a dank old house full of rubbish and, it seems (to Evelyn at least), evil spiri
  3. This was the first Hilary Mantel I read, having been intrigued by a couple of episodes I heard when it was read on Woman's Hour about 20 years ago. And now I discover that it has been the Book at Bedtime on radio4 for the last 2 weeks (no doubt the very same recording). I thought I had started retrospective threads on about five of the Mantel books I had read before BGO existed, but apparently not, or they disappeared in one of our early breaks in transmission. There is just one in this forum, on the darkly comic Vacant Possession, which is a shame, as I found her C20 novels varied and ver
  4. Thomas Cromwell is the subject of this book. We follow his life as a blacksmith's son in Putney to the point where he is holding the highest offices in the land. As well as gaining insight into Thomas's abilities and how he came to acquire them it is also a psychological portrait but an unpretentious one, subtly weaved into the turbulent years of Henry VIII's reign. Hilary Mantel acknowledges the help she has had with the historical research but what is so impressive is how she has melded the facts so seamlessly into the narrative. This narrative never flags and I found the novel a
  5. I have now listened to Bring Up The Bodies on audiobook twice . The first time was on holiday just over a year ago - in a cottage overlooking Kimbolton Castle (where Henry VIII kept Katherine of Aragon incarcerated). That added some piquancy to the first few chapters, but I'm afraid that holiday activities made listening rather disjointed and I actually forgot that I had read it - which accounts for this second reading. Wolf Hall remained more vividly in my memory, in spite of being read two years earlier. This time I found it more engaging. I now have a much better idea of the cast-list than
  6. A RL Book Group choice, this isn't the sort of book I'd normally go for, but it had me gripped. Alison is a stage medium with a disturbing past. She lives a sort of half-life on the periphary of both the living and the dead - or earthside/airside as she calls it. A set of strange characters invade her life from both sides - the fiends in spirit form, and her 'fiendish' professional associates. Mantel writes really well and maintains a tension between Alison's truly horrific past and the supernatural forces it unleashes, and the banality of modern life. I really enjoyed it, even though a c
  7. Is no.2 Buckingham Avenue possessed? Is Muriel Axon a changeling as her mother claimed? Or is she merely deranged as a result of her upbringing? Whatever else she is, Muriel is a mistress of disguise, and when she leaves the asylum she is driven to unimaginable lengths to get back her home and to get her proper baby in return for the changeling she floated down the canal in a cardboard box ten years previously. Strangely, fate seems to conspire with her plans, bringing chaos into the lives of those who had been present at the pivotal moment in her life. This is one of Hilary Mantel'
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