Giving up the ghost : a memoir

by Mantel, Hilary, 1952-

Format: Print Book 2003
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Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
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Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "With a harsh wit reminiscent of Mary McCarthy, prizewinning novelist Mantel writes about growing up Catholic in England, about her family secrets, school, work, and marriage, and about the chronic, excruciatingly painful illness that hit her at the age of 27. Without nostalgia, she remembers her childhood in a village community: Every person oversaw the affairs of the next; and sniggered about them. Her self-mockery is just as entertaining, and she's honest about how hard it is to remember: you can't make sense of childhood, only report it as it felt. She's enraged against the medical establishment that for years treated her physical symptoms as female neurosis caused by overambition. Yet with the fury and farce, she also writes with lyrical simplicity about loss. She remembers missing her dad after the family breakup: He was never mentioned after we parted: except by me, to me. We never met again. Women's book groups will want this, and so will writers trying to tell their stories. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2003 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "As she approaches midlife, Mantel applies her beautiful prose and expansive vocabulary to a somewhat meandering memoir. The English author of eight novels (The Giant, O'Brien; Eight Months on Ghazzah Street; etc.) is "writing in order to take charge of the story of my childhood and my childlessness; and in order to locate myself... between the lines where the ghosts of meaning are." Among the book's themes are ghosts and illness, both of which Mantel has much experience with. She expends many pages on her earliest years, and then on medical treatments in her 20s, but skips other decades almost entirely as she brings readers up to the present. At age seven she senses a horrifying creature in the garden, which as a Catholic she concludes is the devil; later, houses she lives in have "minor poltergeists." The first and foremost ghost, though, is the baby she will never have. By 20, Mantel is in constant pain from endometriosis, and at 27, after years of misdiagnosis and botched treatment, she has an operation that ends her fertility. Her pains come back, she has thyroid problems and drug treatments cause her body to balloon; she describes these ordeals with remarkably wry detachment. Fans of Mantel's critically acclaimed novels may enjoy the memoir as insight into her world. Often, though, all the fine detail that in another work would flesh out a plot-such as embroidery silk "the scarlet shade of the tip of butterflies' wings"-has nowhere to go. (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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Mantel, Hilary, -- 1952-
Novelists, English -- 20th century -- Biography.
Chronic pain -- Patients -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Publisher New York :Henry Holt,2003
Edition 1st American ed.
Language English
Notes "A John Macrae book."
Description 223 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 0805074724
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