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Greatly anticipated novel from the critically-acclaimed author of GIVING UP THE GHOST.
Alison is a medium. She really does hear voices from the other side. But what she hears is sometimes just too dark to pass on. She mostly tells her clients – drawn from the outer reaches of London skirted by the M25 – what they want to hear. Alison is ’a girl of unfeasible size, with plump creamy shoulders, rounded calves, thighs and hips that overflow her chair’. But put some make-up on her beige features and she glows.
Colette, her manager and side-kick, makes the bookings and gets Alison on stage. The two travel from one dreary hotel, and from one concrete civic building of the 1960s or 1970s, to another. Colette is something of a blank with flat hair. She too may be psychic. She thinks she may have spoken to her boyfriend’s dead mother on the telephone. Colette decides to work for Alison after Alison, at one of her stage shows, reveals to Colette who her real father is.
And then there is Morris, Alison’s foul-mouthed and obscene Spirit Guide. He appears to her one day and she is now stuck with him for life.
This hilarious black comedy is the work of a master writer at the height of her powers.
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Praise for ‘Giving Up the Ghost’:
‘Like Lorna Sage’s ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Giving Up the Ghost’ is a story of childhood that is also a piece of history. Hilary Mantel’s self-portrait is a masterpiece of wit, but it conjures up a time and a place and an epoch of female experience with razor-edged sobriety. That past, so thoroughly vanished, is made to live again here – disclosed, cannily and heartbreakingly, as once it too yielded up its author's mind.’ Rachel Cusk
‘What a remarkable writer she is. She is piercingly, even laceratingly observant, and every remembered detail has the sharpness of a good photograph. And yet for all its brilliance of detail and its black comedy the memoir is heavy with atmophere. It's 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 BoylanFrom the Back Cover:
Alison Hart is a medium by trade: dead people talk to her, and she talks back. With her flat-eyed, flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, she tours the dormitory towns of London's orbital road, passing on messages from dead ancestors: 'Granny says she likes your new kitchen units.'
Alison's ability to communicate with spirits is a torment rather than a gift. Behind her plump, smiling and bland public persona is a desperate woman. She knows that the next life holds terrors that she must conceal from her clients. Her days and nights are haunted by the men she knew in her childhood, the thugs and petty criminals who preyed upon her hopeless, addled mother, Emmie. They infiltrate her house, her body and her soul; the more she tries to be rid of them, the stronger and nastier they become.
This tenth novel by Hilary Mantel, the critically acclaimed author of Giving Up the Ghost, is a witty and deeply sinister story of dark secrets and dark forces, set in an England that jumps at its own shadow, a country whose banal self-absorption is shot through by fear of the engulfing dark.
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