Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir

Front Cover
Macmillan, Oct 8, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 223 pages
In postwar rural England, Hilary Mantel is a fierce, self-possessed child, schooling herself in "chivalry, horsemanship, and swordplay" and convinced that she will become a boy at age four. Catholic school comes as a rude distraction from her rich inner life. At home, where fathers and stepfathers come and go at strange, overlapping intervals, the keeping of secrets becomes a way of life. Her late teens bring her to law school in London and then to Sheffield; a lover and then a husband. She acquires a persistent pain-which also shifts and travels-that over the next decade will subject her to destructive drugs, patronizing psychiatry, and, finally, at age twenty-seven, to an ineffective and irrevocable surgery. There will be no children; instead she has "a ghost of possibility, a paper baby, a person who slipped between the lines." Hormone treatments alter her body beyond recognition. And in the middle of it all, she begins one novel, and then another.

Hilary Mantel was born to write about the paradoxes that shimmer at the edges of our perception. Dazzling, wry, and visceral, Giving Up the Ghost is a deeply compelling book that will bring new converts to Mantel's dark genius.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cariola - LibraryThing

Mantel's memoir focuses on three main aspects of her life: her dysfunctional family, her relationship to Catholicism, and her ongoing health issues. She, her parents, and her two younger brothers ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

This brief but moving memoir is difficult to write about, because one starts thinking Mantel is writing about her experiences with the supernatural, but its concluding pages are very personal. It took courage to write this, and considerable effort . Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Hilary Mantel is the critically acclaimed author of eight novels, including Fludd, Every Day Is Mother's Day, and Vacant Possessions. Recipient of the Hawthornden Prize, she reviews for The New York Times and The New York Review of Books and lives in England.

Bibliographic information