Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel
A Memoir

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Synopsis

In postwar rural England, Hilary Mantel is a fierce, self-possessed child, schooling herself in "chivalry, horsemanship, and swordplay" and convinced that she will become a boy at age four. Catholic school comes as a rude distraction from her rich inner life. At home, where fathers and stepfathers come and go at strange, overlapping intervals, the keeping of secrets becomes a way of life. Her late teens bring her to law school in London and then to Sheffield; a lover and then a husband. She acquires a persistent pain-which also shifts and travels-that over the next decade will subject her to destructive drugs, patronizing psychiatry, and, finally, at age twenty-seven, to an ineffective and irrevocable surgery. There will be no children; instead she has "a ghost of possibility, a paper baby, a person who slipped between the lines." Hormone treatments alter her body beyond recognition. And in the middle of it all, she begins one novel, and then another.


Hilary Mantel was born to write about the paradoxes that shimmer at the edges of our perception. Dazzling, wry, and visceral, Giving Up the Ghost is a deeply compelling book that will bring new converts to Mantel's dark genius.

 

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 September 1, 2004 by Henry Holt and Co.. 244 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Giving Up the Ghost

Kirkus Reviews

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Mantel believes in specters and relates one particularly harrowing experience, when she was seven, of being occupied by a formless yet substantive horror she saw in the garden.

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The Guardian

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Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir by Hilary Mantel 256pp, Fourth Estate, £16.99 There are ghosts everywhere in Hilary Mantel's life.

May 10 2003 | Read Full Review of Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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(Oct. 8)Forecast: Although this won't win Mantel new readers—though beautifully written, it lacks a coherent story line—fans of Eight Months on Ghazzah Street and A Change of Climate, which were very well received, may want to pick this up.

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London Review of Books

When something made her laugh, tears sprang out of her eyes, and she swayed on her hard chair: swayed as much as her corsets allowed, and creaked.

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Reader Rating for Giving Up the Ghost
75%

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