Category Archives: Mantel, Hilary

Chilling, Twisted, Forensic: Hilary Mantel, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

The adjectives in my post’s title all come from the nearly four pages of blurbs at the front of my paperback edition of The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories. Looking them over after finishing the book, I was struck by how consistent the clips are, and how accurate: “exhilarating if dark,” “brilliantly chilling,” “artfully […]

“Steps to Literature”: Hilary Mantel, Giving Up the Ghost

Sometimes, at dawn or at dusk, I pick out from the gloom — I think I do — a certain figure, traversing those rutted fields in a hushed and pearly light, picking a way among the treacherous rivulets and the concealed ditches. It is a figure shrouded in a cloak, bearing certain bulky objects wrapped […]

Broken Heart of Darkness: Hilary Mantel, A Change of Climate

A Change of Climate is an odd book. I didn’t love it, perhaps because I didn’t know quite what to make of it. It reminded me a lot of Joanna Trollope’s earlier novels — the “aga saga” ones, like A Village Affair, or Marrying the Mistress. It has a small cast of intertwined characters, all more or less eccentric, all […]

Guilty as Charged: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

There’s a feeling of power in reserve, a power that drives right through the bone, like the shiver you sense in the shaft of an axe when you take it into your hand. You can strike, or you can not strike, and if you choose to hold back the blow, you can still feel inside […]

Carlyle on the Death of Louis XVI

I had a phrase from Carlyle’s French Revolution circling in my head today: I thought I wanted to use the phrase in the piece I’m writing for Open Letters Monthly (though now I think I won’t), but I couldn’t quite remember how it went (not even enough to try a search for it), so I […]

Recent Reading: Mina and Mantel

In my previous post about summer reading plans I forgot to mention that my daughter and I have committed once again to our local library’s summer reading club. (As an aside, let’s hear it for public libraries, perhaps the greatest public institutions we have!)  This year her pledge (for me to match) is 25 books […]

This Month in My Class and Other Updates: Hilary Mantel, Beyond Black

A long, long time ago, I noted that I was about to begin teaching an intensive spring session course…oh, wait, it was only four weeks ago! And tomorrow is our last class meeting before the final exam. As Archdeacon Grantley would say, Good Heavens! As I said then, “the pace is relentless . . . […]

Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety

George Eliot considered the writing of historical fiction “a task which can only be justified by the rarest concurrence of acquirement with genius,” requiring “a form of imaginative power [which] must always be among the very rarest, because it demands as much accurate and minute knowledge as creative vigour.” Novels of “the modern antique school […]

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