By Hilary Mantel
In her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, acclaimed novelist Hilary Mantel conducts her reader through the story of her life as if she were giving a tour of a rambling manor house. “Here in the foyer, you’ll see the staircase haunted by the ghost of my step-father,” she might have said, leading us inside.
As she continues the tour, Mantel opens door after door, showing us the rooms of her life; “Here at the back of the house, you’ll see my childhood,” she explains. “The unplumbed kitchens, the outdoor toilets, the garden fence holding back the wrath of a shrill neighbor.” We walk through her past, her chronic illness, the stigma of poverty, the forces at work as she forges ahead with her education (studying law) in the face of almost universal skepticism. She brings us full circle, ending the tour where we began, in conversation with ghosts.
With multiple award-winning, bestselling novels already behind her, Mantel penned this memoir before her monumental success with Wolf Hall. That novel (and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies) won the coveted Booker Prize before being adapted for the screen in a PBS limited series. Sprinkled with pearls of precious wisdom for writers (“Remember what Orwell says, that good prose is like a windowpane.”), Giving Up the Ghost recounts more than the events of a woman’s life; it shows us how this writer was born.
Great review!! Maybe be my next purchase with my Barnes and Noble gift card. 😊