Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir

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Fourth Estate, 2003 - Autobiographical fiction - 246 pages

'Like Lorna Sage's "Bad Blood", "Giving Up the Ghost" is a story of childhood that is also a piece of history. A masterpiece.' Rachel Cusk

"Giving Up the Ghost" is award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel's wry, shocking and beautifully written autobiography.

It opens in 1995 with 'A Second Home', in which Mantel describes the death of her stepfather, a death which leaves her deeply troubled by the unresolved events of childhood. 'Now Geoffrey Don't Torment Her' begins in typical, gripping Mantel fashion: 'Two of my relatives have died by fire.' Set during the 1950s, it takes the reader into the muffled consciousness of her early childhood, culminating with the birth of a younger brother and the strange candlelit ceremony of her mother's 'churching'. Mantel then moves to a haunted house and mysteriously gains a stepfather. When she is almost eleven, her family flee the gossips and the ghosts, and resolve to start a new life. Teenage perplexity displaces childhood dreams of Arthurian knights as her home turns into a place where the keeping of secrets has become a way of life. Convent school provides a certain sanctuary, with tacit assistance from the fearsome 'Top Nun'. After making good her escape to university and her own marriage, the author reveals how, through medical misunderstandings and neglect, she came to be childless, and how the ghosts of the unborn, like chances missed or pages unturned, have come to haunt her life as a writer.

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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

Contents

A Second Home
1
PART
26
The Secret Garden
69
Copyright

3 other sections not shown

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About the author (2003)

Hilary Mantel was born in Derbyshire. She was educated at a convent and later studied law. After ten years abroad in Africa and the Middle East, she returned to Britain in 1985 to make a career as a writer. She is working on her ninth novel.

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