Opening with "A Second Home", in which Mantel describes the death of her stepfather, Giving Up the Ghost is a wry, shocking, and beautifully written memoir of childhood, ghosts (real and metaphorical), illness, and family. Finally, at the memoir's conclusion, Mantel explains how a series of medical misunderstandings and neglect left her childless, and how the ghosts of the unborn have come to haunt her life as a writer.
©2003 Hilary Mantel (P)2012 W F Howes Ltd
The anecdotes from the life of Hilary Mantel that are then reflected upon by the author and placed into the context of her whole life. It is a complex book, but there is a simplicity about it that is very graceful.
Clearly, by my plagiarism of his title, C S Lewis' book, ' a Grief Observed'. Although Lewis is writing about the death of his wife, and his responses to it; and Mantel is writing about her never-born child, to me they are very synchronistic in their integrity and openness.
I did not think either wrote of raw pain, but rather of observed pain. They were able to experience and then describe an internal feeling.
No, I have watched innumerable 'Midsomer Murders' though.
In this book, I found her voice sympathetic and expressive. It told the story without being in any way obtrusive to it.
I do not think this could be made into a film. It is too intimate and inward looking. The actual story of the author's life is not remarkable and would not really make for good watching.
What is remarkable is how Hilary Mantel focusses on her emotional responses to the events of her life - and that is something that can only be presented in words, not pictures.
The book is complex and rewarding. It is short and beautifully crafted.
I think it speaks to all of us, as each one of us has had a deep loss at sometime in our lives.
It is important to say that such a complex book will not satisfy in a single listening/reading. There is too much in it to take in. However given its brevity it is easy to listen to a 2nd and even a 3rd time with as much interest in it as was there the 1st time.
For the first part of this book I had two very strong opinions - I was impressed by how beautifully it is written, but even the best writer must have something interesting to say and I just wasn't grabbed by any of the anecdotes and incidents from Hilary's childhood. But by the time she started university I was captivated, and her experiences with the medical profession are heart-breaking and recounted with such honesty I was fascinated and felt very privileged to be witness to everything she had gone through. The middle and end made up for the beginning so, overall I'm very glad I stayed with it.
"A stunningly crafted memoir"
An often painful listen as Hilary Mantel describes a life determined by her parents' separation and life with a stepfather and then by what can only be called medical negligence and bad practice, a state of affairs not uncommon in the 60s and 70s, channelling her into the superb writer she has become. Woven through is also the sense that the boundaries between worlds and people are not as solid for her as they are for most of us. Beautifully structured and written. Highly recommended.
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