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In Laura Cumming's book about her mother, an image seen anew casts new light on the past. A reflection and prayer to start the day with Rev David Bruce. Listen My Sounds. This is a compelling and readable memoir. It's melancholic but tinged with humour. There is a sense of longing for another self but ultimately a coming to terms with the ghost of the person she might have been. This book is largely a childhood memoir. As you can imagine Hilary was a bright and precocious child, she amuses herself with tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table and desires the life of the knight errant but alas at the age of four she is disappointed to find that she d This is a compelling and readable memoir.

As you can imagine Hilary was a bright and precocious child, she amuses herself with tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table and desires the life of the knight errant but alas at the age of four she is disappointed to find that she doesn't turn into a boy! There is some upheaval in her family which she bravely takes on the chin.

The third part of the book concerns her struggle with illness. I was aghast at the way she was treated by medical professionals. She went through absolute hell and was given misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis and as a result was prescribed unhelpful drugs that added new symptoms to the mix. Obviously all the important elements are there but I didn't think that the parts of her story were linked smoothly although maybe if she had beefed them up a bit the book would have been too long.

She omits information about her writing. I wanted to know more about her writing habits, technique, the process, time of day she wrote etc I really like Hilary Mantel the person. I can't wait to read her Thomas Cromwell series. If a book of her essays and articles is compiled I will be first in the queue. Below are some examples. Funny, insightful article on losing prizes but eventually wining the Man Booker prize. That brilliant and needlessly controversial thanks to the daily mail lecture on royal bodies.

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May 22, Holley Rubinsky rated it it was amazing. Giving Up the Ghost , , is one of the best autobios I have ever read. Her writing swept me away with its clarity and brilliance and at times made me laugh, pleased with the distance she could go in a paragraph. In Winterson's case, the adoptive mother was nuts, as well as neglectful. Mantel's experience with endometriosis is a nightmare, and that it went on in the s is unforgivable -- in the end, she did not get even a more modern, for that time, surgical cut. She suffered hugely, given various drugs for mental illness not her problem and side effects, one of which made her fat, fat, fat.

Reading about how she was treated during that phase will be familiar. But despite the years of suffering and misdiagnoses, Mantel continued to research and write. I'm the sort of person who wonders what people think about, and the form that those thoughts take; and there is nothing more fascinating to me than insight into a person's mind.

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In this memoir, Mantel generously shares the most abiding, most haunting, thoughts and recollections of her life - starting with earliest childhood. Not all childhood reminiscences are interesting, and Mantel does dwell lingeringly upon the minutiae which makes up her early years, but when the reader is granted access to I'm the sort of person who wonders what people think about, and the form that those thoughts take; and there is nothing more fascinating to me than insight into a person's mind.

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Not all childhood reminiscences are interesting, and Mantel does dwell lingeringly upon the minutiae which makes up her early years, but when the reader is granted access to a mind as unique as Hilary Mantel's, the details of a childhood Irish Catholic, Northern, s are incredibly interesting. As she says herself, her senses have always been hyper-aware - a form of synthaesia, perhaps - or maybe just an extremely sensitive consciousness.

It is also obvious that she possessed a formidable intellect, imagination and will - even from a very early age. The combination of all of these means that her writing - at turns impressionistic, and then very sharp-edged - is extraordinarily vivid. In many ways, Mantel has had a painful and difficult life: not only has she suffered from myriad illnesses, most notably the endometriosis which led to a hysterectomy before the age of 30, but she endured a very strange childhood.

When she was a little girl, a man named Jack started coming round for tea. Astonishingly, she never sees her own father Henry again. Henry, my father, might as well have been dead; except that the dead were more discussed. He was never mentioned after we parted: except by me, to me. We never met again. Ghosts are diffuse in both meaning and number. Some emanations are literal, while others are just suggestions or possibilities like the children that Mantel will never be able to bring forth into the world.

Although Mantel does refer to her writing - one of my favourite instances being when she refers to an old pine table with love because she has "a nervous sort of nostalgia for any surface I have written a book on" - it takes a backseat to the losses in her life. It's interesting that the introduction to the book describes Mantel as a woman who combines "clear thinking with a cracking sense of humour".

There are occasional glimpses of this humour, or what Mantel describes as a characteristic flippancy, but lightness is very much overshadowed by darkness and pain. I would guess that humour is a stronger note in her social personality, or perhaps this story has been shaped by its attention to, and interest in, the losses and the ghosts. There is an interesting paradox at work here, and I think it is probably true of many woman - maybe not so much in this generation of young women, but for those born in a more misogynistic time.

Although Mantel is clearly a formidable and successful woman, and one of the most respected contemporary British writers, she is well-aware of her own internal damage. Her account of how her physical pain was completely discounted for years - and either assumed to be psychosomatic, or a symptom of choose one being overly ambitious, nervous or hysterical - is really quite horrific to read. She describes her own passivity in her relationship with misguided male doctors as being partly due to a belief "that I always felt that I deserved very little, that I would probably not be happy in life, and the the safest thing was to lie down and die.

Some of my favourite lines: Mantel mentions that it was her grandfather's job to stoke the Co-op boiler in Hadfield. I had some idea what would be the extent of the devils' coal bill. Nov 23, Lyn Elliott rated it liked it Shelves: autobiography-memoir. I found this difficult to read precisely because Mantel's scalpel sharp eye is applied equally to the miasmas that swirl around her, her physical illness and personal awkwardnesses.

Yes, her writing is brilliant. But I much prefer the historical fiction. I've just attempted to read her opening piece, 'Meeting the Devil' in a anthology of memoir from the London Review of Books which takes its title from Mantel's contribution. In it, she writes in bloody, excruciating and horrifying detail abo I found this difficult to read precisely because Mantel's scalpel sharp eye is applied equally to the miasmas that swirl around her, her physical illness and personal awkwardnesses.

In it, she writes in bloody, excruciating and horrifying detail about her experiences post-surgery; bodily fluids, ghastly gaping wounds and hallucinations. Halfway through I had had enough of the subject matter, and I feel a bit like that about her book. Too much information, as they say.

Dec 07, Debbie Robson rated it really liked it. I've had ill health all my life and do I must admit feel sorry for myself from time to time. Well this book served as a very efficient reminder that there is always someone worse off than yourself. What Mantel went through because of apathy, her catholic background and an inefficient healthcare system is just astonishing. I do feel though that regret is the ghost she gives up. Although I was secretly hoping for details of other ghosts, this was a very worthwhile read.

View 2 comments. Aug 24, Jennifer Louden rated it it was amazing. My god, what is this thing? Her prose, her way of putting on the page that which she claims she can not describe and does not and yet does: electric tingles. Memoir feels too small a word for this story. Read it! Jan 25, Bibliophile rated it really liked it. Growing up, people often told me that life was no picnic I'm not sure why, since I was already a gloomy little pessimist.

These days it seems a very unfashionable thing to say, especially to kids. But although life was, and is, pretty good, I sometimes mutter this to myself and feel oddly comforted by it. Because life really can be shitty sometimes. Insisting that all obstacles can be overcome, anything is possible, you can do whatever you want etc seems so counterproductive to me, because it Growing up, people often told me that life was no picnic I'm not sure why, since I was already a gloomy little pessimist.

Insisting that all obstacles can be overcome, anything is possible, you can do whatever you want etc seems so counterproductive to me, because it obviously isn't true. Shit happens, and while you may try to deal with it as graciously as possible, there are times when there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Admitting this is in itself a relief, I think. Maybe I'm just a grumpy misanthrope, but inspirational stories about overcoming adversity make me gag. So naturally I enjoyed Mantel's autobiography. She's had her fair share of adversity, and she's not coy about it.

There's no self-pity involved, but she's brutally honest and unapologetic about the bad stuff. It makes for grim reading, but impressed the hell out of me. And yeah, she's one of the most successful British authors at the moment, so I'm sure there's some inspiration to be found there as well for those who crave it. I haven't quite finished reading this as I picked it up at a friends house and read it continuously all day, while waiting for dinner, sitting on the bus, lying in a London Park.

I had to return home before I finished but I was absolutely engrossed. Hilary Mantel has such a distinct and unique style, I have never read anyone like her. It is an interesting autobiography not just for the life described, the intimate personal lives led by real, working class people in Manchester in the 's but a I haven't quite finished reading this as I picked it up at a friends house and read it continuously all day, while waiting for dinner, sitting on the bus, lying in a London Park. It is an interesting autobiography not just for the life described, the intimate personal lives led by real, working class people in Manchester in the 's but also because of Mantels strange quirks and odd observations.

She is a very brave writer I think and she talks of this, of not wanting to hide behind cliches or metaphors and yet at the same time not being ashamed of them when they come to her as right. There is a lot of pain behind the writing, as if some of it has really been wrenched from her memory onto the page and there is something so direct about her tone its a real pleasure to read. This is a 4. It was fun to read about the places, people, and events that made their way into her books, but more than that it made me admire her even more.

That she managed to write anything is quite something now that I've learned how very sick and how much much pain she has endured in her life. The period in her college years when she was treated with serious psychiatric medications because the chauvinistic doctor misdiagnosed severe endome This is a 4. The period in her college years when she was treated with serious psychiatric medications because the chauvinistic doctor misdiagnosed severe endometriosis as mental illness was chilling. Of course the writing is wonderful, it's Hilary Mantel, and after spending a few days getting to know her I feel even more that I would love to have tea and a long chat with her.

Nov 04, Holly rated it liked it Shelves: reads. Mantel's language is wonderful, but I don't believe this memoir will linger in my memories. Trust your reader, stop spoon-feeding your reader, stop patronizing your reader, give your reader credit for being as smart as you at least, and stop being so bloody beguiling: you in the back row, will you turn off that charm! Plain words on plain paper. Remember what Orwell say Mantel's language is wonderful, but I don't believe this memoir will linger in my memories.

Remember what Orwell says, that good prose is like a windowpane. Concentrate on sharpening your memory and peeling your sensibility. Cut every page you write by at least one third. Stop constructing those piffling little similes of yours. Work out what it is you want to say. Then say it in the most direct and vigorous way you can. Eat meat.

Give up your social life and don't think you can have friends. Rise in the quiet hours of the night and prick your fingertips and use the blood for ink; that will cure you of persiflage! The quality of the writing was very good, I'll give the book that; however, I found it largely a relentless downer. I've never read her fiction and don't plan on it , but her fans may appreciate her story more than I did definitely not her target audience.

How interesting -- looking up this book, which is not quite the edition I read it in, or not the same picture anyway, I realised how many different books there are with this title. Anyway, this is the only Giving Up the Ghost I have read. And it's good. It's also the only Hilary Mantel I've read, though I'm aware of her stature as a historical novelist, and I've listened to her on the radio and read articles by her in newspapers. This memoir is personal. The early pages are slightly fragment How interesting -- looking up this book, which is not quite the edition I read it in, or not the same picture anyway, I realised how many different books there are with this title.

The early pages are slightly fragmentary -- real bits of blurry memory, zoning in and out of different incidents. Somewhere in the middle I suddenly found I was completely compelled by the narrative and could not put the book down. The author is, I have no doubt, an extraordinary person -- hugely unlucky in her health and the treatment she did and didn't receive -- hugely lucky in the gift for writing. As for her solid determination and character, the stubborn hard work that took her where she is today -- she is simply amazing. This memoir is beautifully written.

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It is also spooky in places. It has ghosts in it, or things that approximate to the inexplicable and magical. One incident when she is seven is the weirdest thing, and it may be from this point that I started to be transfixed by the narrative: "I am seven, and I am in the yard at Brosscroft; I am playing near the house, near the back door. Something makes me look up: some shift of the light.

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My eyes are drawn to a spot beyond the yard, beyond its gate, in the long garden. It is, let us say, some fifty yards away, among coarse grass, weeds and bracken. I can't see anything, not exactly see: except the faintest movement, a ripple, a disturbance of the air. I can sense a spiral, a lazy buzzing swirl, like flies, but it is not flies.

There is nothing to see. There is nothing to smell. There is nothing to hear. But its motion, its insolent shift, makes my stomach heave. I can sense -- at the periphery, the limit of all my senses -- the dimensions of the creature. It is as high as a child of two. Its depth is a foot, fifteen inches. The air stirs around it, invisibly. I am cold, and rinsed by nausea. I cannot move. I am shaking; as if pinned in the moment, I cannot wrench my gaze away. I am looking at a space occupied by nothing.

It has no edges, no mass, no dimension, no shape except the formless; it moves. I beg it, stay away, stay away. Within the space of a thought it is inside me, and has set up a sick resonance within my bones and in all the cavities of my body. Much else in this novel fascinated me.

Her awareness is not like any other I have shared, and share it I did. To read this memoir is to be inside her mind and way of thinking. At the end of the edition I read there is an interview and various Hilary Mantel facts. After reading about her migraines and the odd feelings and sensations she sometimes has on her left side, I was not surprised to discover who her favourite author is: Oliver Sacks.

He is also one of mine. At times she stops to comment on her own writing: "Do you know what worries me most about this memoir? That I'm always the smart one. Always the one with the last word. Always the one with the heartless quip, the derisive bon mot. But she's also tender, sensitive and truthful. She won my heart completely. Nov 15, David rated it really liked it Shelves: big-white-square. The endometriosis monologues. Very painful reading. I thought he'd have been hardened to that, but he said, 'I am afraid I am hurting you.

I am sorry. I will stop now. Very thoughtful and not at all whining description of her medical history by one of Britain's most prestigious authors. I cannot understand how the book can be described as a "downer" by some reviewers here on goodreads — Mantel keeps a sardonic distance and a wry humour even if battered by a still male-dominated health system. In my opinion this book is a very important addition to the feminist canon and the endeavor to write the feminine body "as it is" into existence. Apr 03, Melissa rated it it was amazing.

This helped me through the most difficult time of my life and I can't say anything better about a book than that. It is exquisitely written, as all Hilary Mantel's books are, and is one of the most acccurate and heartbreaking accounts of what a life of pain and illness is like. I can't thank her enough for writing something that so eloquently articulates the experience of sickness without a hint of self pity or melodrama.

Jul 26, lucky little cat rated it liked it Shelves: memoir , lyrical , read-in , ghost-stories. Leave it to Mantel to persuade readers to at least consider the possibility of ghosts and the supernatural. Yup, Mantel succeeds where eight volumes of Harry Potter failed. While I can't seem to manage to make it through any of Mantel's dense historical fictions, I heard a staff book reviewer at the New York Times wax poetic about her memoir, so I ordered it, intrigued. It is a messy, murky, surreal tale of childhood illogic, devastating misdiagnosed illness and brilliant talent.

I underlined so many perfect turns of phrase, my little actually pocket sized Picador edition is leaking ink and highlighter. While there is some humor, the tone is mostly dark, dark, da While I can't seem to manage to make it through any of Mantel's dense historical fictions, I heard a staff book reviewer at the New York Times wax poetic about her memoir, so I ordered it, intrigued. While there is some humor, the tone is mostly dark, dark, dark. The ghosts that haunt her writing and her life include a taciturn grandfather who fed her Arthurian tales, an impatient stepfather who was never satisfied, and the children she could never have because of long undiagnosed endometriosis.

I loved the way she captured and pinned down the strangeness of childhood, of not understanding the adult world at all but feeling the natural world completely. It is a throughly original work, not something I would normally gravitate towards, but the writing fed my soul. Found in an Oxfam bookshop and thought I'd give it a try. Mary Karr praised its style in "Art of Memoir. Karr's style in Liars Club didn't grab me either!

Authors for another reader, it seems. Onto the next book then :. Jan 01, Featherbooks rated it it was amazing Shelves: women , memoir , nonfiction-challenge. Mantel's is the kind of writing which leaves you thinking why bother with your own scribbles. She is so good.


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The ghost of her stepfather flickers on the first page, then a hundred pages in we are alerted to the apparition seen in the garden at the age of six or seven; this is the ghost which haunts the rest of her memoir: "I am writing in order to take charge of the story of my childhood and my childlessness; and in order to locate myself, in not within a body, then in the narrow space between Mantel's is the kind of writing which leaves you thinking why bother with your own scribbles. The ghost of her stepfather flickers on the first page, then a hundred pages in we are alerted to the apparition seen in the garden at the age of six or seven; this is the ghost which haunts the rest of her memoir: "I am writing in order to take charge of the story of my childhood and my childlessness; and in order to locate myself, in not within a body, then in the narrow space between one letter and the next, between the lines where the ghosts of meaning are.

She recalls every place she has lived and the pains of marital breakups and moving. She writes about her grueling medical history with just enough detachment and wit that you can keep reading and marvel at her metaphors: "I have been so mauled by medical procedures, so sabotaged and made over, so thin and so fat, that sometimes I feel that each morning it is necessary to write myself into being