Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
A Novel (John MacRae Books)

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Synopsis

Hailed as a "writer of subtlety and depth," Hilary Mantel turns her dark genius on the world of psychics in this smart, unsettling novel (Joyce Carol Oates)

A paragon of efficiency, Colette took the next natural step after finishing secretarial school by marrying a man who would do just fine. After a sobering, do-it-yourself divorce, Colette is at a loss for what to do next. Convinced that she is due an out-of-hand, life-affirming revelation, she strays into the realm of psychics and clairvoyants, hungry for a whisper to set her off in the right direction. At a psychic fair in Windsor she meets the charismatic Alison.

Alison, the daughter of a prostitute, beleaguered during her childhood by the pressures of her connection to the spiritual world, lives in a different kind of solitude. She cannot escape the dead who speak to her, least of all the constant presence of Morris, her low-life spiritual guide. An expansive presence onstage, Alison at once feels her bond with Colette, inviting her to join her on the road as her personal assistant and companion.

Troubles spiral out of control when the pair moves to a suburban wasteland in what was once the English countryside and take up with a spirit guide and his drowned therapist. It is not long before Alison's connection to the place beyond black threatens to uproot their lives forever. This is Hilary Mantel at her finest- insightful, darkly comic, unorthodox, and thrilling to read.

 

About Hilary Mantel

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Hilary Mantel's novels "offer lessons in life's contrariness, in the tensions between free will, unfortunate accident, and involuntary behavior" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). She is the author of eight novels and winner of the prestigious Hawthornden Prize for Literature.
 
Published April 18, 2006 by Henry Holt and Co.. 380 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Horror, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Beyond Black

Kirkus Reviews

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Morris, who is linked to Al’s evil childhood surroundings, hangs around her dressing room, invisible to the “insensitive” as Alison works the crummy theaters and meeting halls where she and her colleagues bring whitewashed glimpses of the postmortem other side (nobody wnts to hear how confused an...

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The New York Times

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Hilary Mantel's heroine is laboring to divest herself of malign spirits who are present in her life in the most literal way.

May 15 2005 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

The Guardian

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Alison, a professional medium, relies on her psychological acumen: "She could see straight through the living, to their ambitions and secret sorrows."

Jan 21 2006 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

The Guardian

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Alison is a medium who avoids the word "death" and will not tell her "clients" - "even though they deserved frightening" - about "the true nature of the place beyond black".

Jan 14 2006 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

The Guardian

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Colette called her a stupid overweight sucker for being taken in by Mart's hard luck story, but Big Al was determined to help him, so she took to sharing takeaways with him.

May 16 2005 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

The Guardian

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They discussed the lives of Mantel's characters - particularly Alison, the professional medium, and Colette, her hard-hearted sidekick - with the strength of feeling and the amusement proper to a novel that has come alive.

Feb 04 2006 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

The Guardian

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She produces characters — some dead, some partly dead, some barely alive but pretending — that are as strong and vivid on the page as if they were living or dying next door — if only you cared to go there.

Apr 29 2005 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

London Review of Books

Slig was unbuttoned, and he held his member in his hand, rubbing the tip and watching and listening as the woman’s skull tapped the cobbles, tip, tap, tip, tap, with every lunge of Claffey .

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Bookmarks Magazine

Fay Weldon Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars "Hilary Mantel’s marvelous new novel … makes the unreal as real as bad TV reception.

Jan 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

New York Magazine

Mantel writes these ghosts so freshly, with such detail—the yellowing face, the creaking leather jacket—we never stop to wonder if the ghosts are projections.

May 21 2005 | Read Full Review of Beyond Black: A Novel (John M...

Reader Rating for Beyond Black
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