A brilliant – and rather transgressive – collection of short stories from the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.
Hilary Mantel is one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed writers. In these ten bracingly subversive tales, all her gifts of characterisation and observation are fully engaged, summoning forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday façades. Childhood cruelty is played out behind the bushes in ‘Comma’; nurses clash in ‘Harley Street’ over something more than professional differences; and in the title story, staying in for the plumber turns into an ambiguous and potentially deadly waiting game.
Whether set in a claustrophobic Saudi Arabian flat or on a precarious mountain road in Greece, these stories share an insight into the darkest recesses of the spirit. Displaying all of Mantel’s unmistakable style and wit, they reveal a great writer at the peak of her powers.
I always approach the reading of short stories with trepidation because I really want to like them and very rarely do. I appreciate that this is my personal view and other people love them but I never find them satisfying. There is never enough to really get my teeth into.
However, because this volume is by Hilary Mantel I very much wanted to give them a chance. Whilst, I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of these stories the remaining ones still left me rather cold. The Heart Fails Without Warning and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher were both excellent and in themselves have turned me slightly to the short story genre.
Without doubt Ms Mandel is creative, intelligent and writes wonderfully. Her characters are full bodied and she explores the psychology behind each character in turn. Also, her powers of observation and ability to convey this to the page are outstanding.
Despite the fact that this was not my cup of tea I would still encourage you to read it as it is very well done and if you like short stories you may think this collection are wonderful. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.
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