Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review: Hilary Mantel

Shocking title, isn't it?

From the cover blurb - Cutting to the core of human experience, Hilary Mantel brutally and acutely writes about marriage, class, family, and sex. Unpredictable, diverse, and sometimes shocking, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher displays a magnificent writer at the peak of her powers.

This two time winner of the Man Booker Prize excels in this collection of short stories. I shall give some examples of superb writing, and then say "Go read the book as a master class of character, story arc, and unsettling brilliance."

p.47 There was a dull roasting sensation deep inside your limbs, but no sensation as you peeled yourself like a vegetable. You were sent to bed when you were sleepy, but as the heat of the bedclothes fretted your skin you woke again

p.143 Eccles House, was on a stifling scale of its own. I stood and breathed in- because one must breathe- tar of ten thousand cigarettes, fat of ten thousand breakfasts, the leaking metal seep of a thousand shaving cuts, and the horse chestnut whiff of nocturnal emissions

p.198 Render me the texture of flesh. Pick me what it is, in the timbre of voice, that marks out the living from the dead

p.201  I am willing, though, to tear up the timetable and take some new routes; and I know I shall find, at some unlikely terminus, a hand that is meant to rest in mine.

Gosh, I wish I had written that last line


  1. "Unsettling brilliance" is accurate. Nicely put. I find myself lost in wonder of the words and their beauty - when reading this type of writing. I have no sense of character, plot,or story structure. As a kid, I consistently did relatively poorly when tested on reading comprehension - because of this. As an adult, I'm in awe of authors like Mantel, even though I don't register the story line - I'm too lost in the artistic brilliance of word play.

  2. Wait, wait... So was Margaret Thatcher actually assassinated?