Giving Up the Ghost

Giving Up the Ghost

Paperback

By (author) Hilary Mantel

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  • Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 20mm | 181g
  • Publication date: 7 June 2004
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007142722
  • ISBN 13: 9780007142729
  • Sales rank: 19,802

Product description

From the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of 'Wolf Hall', a wry, shocking and beautiful memoir of childhood, ghosts, hauntings, illness and family. 'Giving up the Ghost' is award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel's uniquely unusual five-part autobiography. Opening in 1995 with 'A Second Home', Mantel describes the death of her stepfather which leaves her deeply troubled by the unresolved events of her childhood. In 'Now Geoffrey Don't Torment Her' Mantel takes the reader into the muffled consciousness of her early childhood, culminating in the birth of a younger brother and the strange candlelight ceremony of her mother's 'churching'. In 'Smile', an account of teenage perplexity, Mantel describes a household where the keeping of secrets has become a way of life. Finally, at the memoir's conclusion, Mantel explains how through a series of medical misunderstandings and neglect she came to be childless and how the ghosts of the unborn like chances missed or pages unturned, have come to haunt her life as a writer.

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Author information

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books , including A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, BEYOND BLACK, and the memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST. Her two most recent novels, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES, have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize - an unprecedented achievement.

Review quote

'She is by turns facetious, matter-of-fact, visionary and comical but always totally riveting.' Daily Telegraph 'Simply astonishing - clear and true.' Guardian 'An extraordinary story, sometimes comic, often grim, but most importantly it is a story of survival.' Spectator 'A masterpiece of wit...[the] past, so thoroughly vanished, is made to live again here.' Rachel Cusk 'What a remarkable writer she is. She is piercingly, even laceratingly observant ... a very startling and daring memoir; the more I read it the more unsettling it becomes.' Helen Dunmore 'I was riveted. It's raw, it's distressing and it's full of piercing insights into a first-rate novelist's mind.' Margaret Forster 'A stunning evocation of an ill-fitting childhood and a womanhood blighted by medical ineptitude. Hilary Mantel's frank and beautiful memoir is impossible to put down and impossible to forget.' Clare Boylan

Editorial reviews

An English critic and novelist (Fludd, 2000, etc.) summons the ghosts of her childhood and youth. In some ways, Mantel's early life was a struggle against ignorance and the brutalities that are its children. A stepfather brooked no disagreements and referred to her as "they"; classmates engaged in creative cruelty; teachers (especially one beast named Malachy) were boring and malevolent; a sexist university law tutor was a "talentless prat in a nylon shirt"; incompetent medicos prescribed psychotropics when confronted with complexity. Mantel begins and ends with the decision to sell their second home, a place in Norfolk she and her husband called "Owl Cottage." Her stepfather's ghost remained there. 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. At the time she was sure it was the devil. The experience became one of the enduring presences in her life. Mantel writes about the many other realities with grace, humor, irony, and, sometimes, bitterness. She tells about how she had two fathers living in the house at the same time (her biological father shared the dwelling with her mother's lover), about her relationships with relatives and books. After reading stories about King Arthur she decided she would be a combination railway guard, like her grandfather, and knight errant. She takes us through the Davy Crockett and Elvis crazes (neither touched her much) and describes the remarkable day when she received the results of her pivotal eleven-plus exam: "Passed. So I can have a life, I thought." The most alarming passages deal with her battles with endometriosis, a chronic gynecological disease undiagnosed for a decade by purblind physicians and sexist shrinks. Along the way, she has much of interest to say about the vagaries of memory, the betrayals of the body, and the art of writing. Mantel's voice, often gently whimsical, can also snarl with anger and bite with satire. (Kirkus Reviews)