Read Every Day Is Mother's Day by Hilary Mantel Online

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Evelyn Axon is a medium by trade; her daughter, Muriel, is a half-wit by nature. Barricaded in their crumbling house, surrounded by the festering rubbish of years, they defy the curiosity of their neighbors and their social worker, Isabel Field. Isabel is young and inexperienced and has troubles of her own: an elderly father who wanders the streets, and a lover, Colin, whoEvelyn Axon is a medium by trade; her daughter, Muriel, is a half-wit by nature. Barricaded in their crumbling house, surrounded by the festering rubbish of years, they defy the curiosity of their neighbors and their social worker, Isabel Field. Isabel is young and inexperienced and has troubles of her own: an elderly father who wanders the streets, and a lover, Colin, who wants her to run away with him. But Colin has three horrible children and a shrill wife who is pregnant again; how is he going to run anywhere? As Isabel wrestles with her own problems, a horrible secret grows in the darkness of the Axon household. When at last it comes to light, the result is by turns hilarious and terrifying....

Title : Every Day Is Mother's Day
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780805062724
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Every Day Is Mother's Day Reviews

  • Sarah (Presto agitato)
    2018-12-13 18:54

    I love Hilary Mantel. Her writing has such precision. She misses nothing and finds exactly the right way to phrase her observations.Unfortunately, even her skill did not save Every Day is Mother’s Day. This was Mantel’s first book, the story of a mentally unfit daughter, her disturbed mother, the social worker assigned to their case, and the married man who sleeps with the social worker. There is an undercurrent of supernatural malevolence thrown in for good measure.The writing is not quite as polished as it is in Mantel’s later books, but it’s still very good. What I couldn’t handle was the unrelenting dreariness. The characters are all unhappy people living bleak, miserable lives, but they are all so horrible to each other, so mean and malicious, that it’s hard to feel much for any of them. On Wikipedia, they call it a “black comedy,” which really stretches the definition of comedy. (A Place of Greater Safety, Mantel’s novel about the French Revolution, is more cheery.) There are some highlights here, like a dinner party that really is amusing, where nothing escapes Mantel’s keen eye and sharp tongue, but aside from that, this book is weaker than her later novels.

  • Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
    2018-11-14 18:40

    Her 1st novel and it's excellent. It’s grim, brooding and infinitely entertaining; this author’s raw talent as a storyteller is immediately evident. The main character is Muriel Axon, a mentally handicapped shut-in who lives with her equally dysfunctional mother Isobel. Another key player is her barely functioning social worker who is more focused on her married lover than dealing with Muriel & her mother's problems. Despite the subject matter this is a surprisingly funny novel, the humour is very British and decidedly dark. If you like it don’t miss its sequelVacant Possession

  • Doreen
    2018-11-21 23:55

    I love reading prose like Ms Mantel's: brisk, precise and compelling. It's a relief to be able to read two of her books in succession after having slogged through weightier tomes, which is no slur on any of the writing involved nor, indeed, a comment on any of the stories conveyed. But the elegant readability of her language, the way it doesn't ever snag or get in the way of the story: it's like slipping into a comfortable robe at the end of the day. Refreshing and, like the work of Muriel Spark's that it's been compared to, exceedingly crisp.That said, I'd expected more of a horror element to this book, given the reviews. The ambiguity as to the "tenants" was interesting, as was the reason the police dug up the garden and, of course, the whole thing with Muriel and her condition. I enjoyed how Ms Mantel left so much to the reader's imagination, though I do wish she'd expanded more on Evelyn's trade. I didn't really find the book creepy, though. Grotesque, in that the characters do some really hideous things, but not at all scary. For that, I give the book 3 stars: it's very well-written, but it doesn't evoke the tension that a book like, say, Beryl Bainbridge's "The Dressmaker" might. It's a comfortable read, which pretty much defeats the purpose of the story.I also thought it misleading that the back cover blurb makes Colin sound like a peripheral character. I found him to be the moral, if flawed, center of the story, as most of it revolved around him and the near-absurdist situations he found himself in. This, for people who've been following my somewhat contentious discussion regarding The Marriage Artist, I thought a near-perfect example of a protagonist who isn't also the hero: again, a refreshing use of prose.I received this book gratis from Picador.

  • Dan
    2018-11-23 18:50

    Mantel is, as they say, a witty writer and I keep turning page after page with interest. She's not above preposterous coincidence or straight-faced pun. (Mrs. Axon is something of a medium who reaches out like an axon to trasmit messages to the other side.) But you must understand that all the characters in this book are a joyless lot whose lives are so empty they cannot for the most part even find ways to struggle for something better. Colin struggles, ineptly, and fails. Murial struggles and succeeds with some horrifying consequences. Mantel is also able in a few deft pages to show us the worst middle class children I can remember reading about. Maybe its a black comedy as reviewers are wont to say, but the comedic elements are not in the tale but in little nooks and crannies, in some of the absurdities, and in the really good satire of a character who has little connection with the story. In spite of my occasional real laughter, both characters and story are depressing. Short of egregious generalizations to which some reviewers are given, its tale of northern English emptiness has little to say to readers who sometimes know love, fear, uncertainty or any of the other emotions. Unlike Experiment in Love, itself pretty grim, this novel does not make me want to think more about it. Yet maybe someday I'll read the sequel,Vacant Possession; after all, she is a great writer and keeps you entertained even if you feel depressed in the process.

  • Karyn Wergland
    2018-12-13 17:54

    All I can say is, don't read this when you're pregnant. You'll end up convinced that you've made a terrible mistake, that family life is a horror, that you are on a downward chute toward abject misery. As soon as you put down the book, you'll realize the author is presenting a one-sided view of that lifestyle. But while you're reading it, you'll feel like you're mucking about in a dirty toilet bowl. For this, I would give the book zero stars. Which may not be entirely fair, since Mantel's not responsible for when I chose to read her book. But even if I weren't huge with child, I will say that I prefer books written with warmth and heart. Perhaps this just wasn't a book for me. Also, there is a huge coincidence midway through the book that I found pretty unbelievable.On the other hand, Mantel's writing style is so crisp, lucid, and memorable that I'm willing to throw in a couple of stars just for that. Perhaps her approach, when applied to different subject matter, would appeal to me. The truth was that I was looking for 'Wolf Hall' and the bookstore was out of stock--and thus, the reading of this book. Ugh. I finished it just to see how low the narrative could drag the institutions I hold dear--parenthood, family life, romance. The answer was, pretty low. Mantel does not seem to believe in love.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-12-06 23:54

    A bit like watching a train wreck. Very grim. England, 1970s. Characters with serious, sad, issues. No one to like. And yet, I finished it. I was interested. I wanted to find out what happened. Many of the threads were not tied up. We were just left to understand why people were so messed up. Clever writing, interesting sentences, interesting associations and descriptions. But not necessarily an experience I would wish on anyone.

  • Audrey
    2018-12-08 20:05

    Always wanted to read Hilary Mantel. Wish I hadn't waited so long. Now I have lots of good stuff ahead of me. This was an odd book and reminded me a bit of the late, great Ruth Rendell's psychological portraits of really strange English families. I'm looking forward to reader some of her newer books.

  • Claire
    2018-11-23 22:52

    I love Mantel's writing but, man, this book is unrelenting. It starts off dark and just gets darker. Misery and more misery. And the ending disappointed me. So . . . I'll stick to her short stories, which I love, and Wolf Hall.

  • Maia
    2018-11-24 23:48

    not finished, just started, but so far: 1) the 'medium' 's connection to the other world isn't, so far: far from being creepy and supernatural, it's just about someone deluded; 2) it's a sharp, sharp satire on social manners, so far. I can't understand all the reviews about 'the characters are unloveable' or 'there's no plot': it's very clearly a satire of manners and mores and the recent past in little england, why are you expecting 'nice' characters or a 'plot'?the problem is the whole, not the pieces and parts. The later trick in the book, more common now, of interspersing beautiful writing with sarcastic comic writing works well. The dinner party isn't good, it's dull and improbable, but the Christmas scene before it is perfect. Warning: her characters speak in scintillating wit, all of them.or: the telling, the book, is fine, you'll enjoy reading it, the affair in particular is perfectly written and the denouement revealing what Evelyn really senses - the 'other world' and what the 'biting and scratching' she feels really is (separately, near the end) are shocking, unexpected and believable - but what you're left with as the sum total in your mind after reading the book is the bad bit, hence 2. Not much really. But as a reading experience, very good

  • Derek Baldwin
    2018-12-12 19:37

    I read this several months after reading it's sequel (Vacant Possession). So I had an inkling of where the story was headed to, but this didn't spoil the story at all. This is very well-written, economical, convincing. The dark humour doesn't undermine the seriousness of this sharp satire of 1970s Britain. It's a world where people hate their stupid pointless jobs, cannot work out why they sire noisy ungrateful smartarse kids, resist the urge to murder their oppressive paranoid parents... or do they? A succession of social workers try but fail to make any difference whatsoever to their clients' miserable lives. The small cast of characters are carefully interlinked, and frequently only the subtlest hints point to what is really going on. Miss a sentence or two and you'll miss the resolution of one of the threads (for example the link between Isabel Field the Social Worker and Muriel, her client, who has become pregnant, is not solely professional. But you could easily miss why!) There are some excellent set-pieces, for example Christmas Day at the Sidney home - the author captures the grinding tedium of it, the exchanges of rubbishy presents, the maddening turmoil of the hyped-up children, how utterly anti-climactic it cannot fail to be.The dinner party at Frank's is also quite brilliant, possibly even more excruciating than Abigail's Party. Definitely recommended, but while Vacant Possession stands up perfectly well on it's own, reading the two books in the correct order is probably the way to go!

  • Mike
    2018-12-04 00:00

    The first book by one of my favorite authors is a nasty piece of work. Practically all the characters are ugly and horrible, and I was pleased that the book was only 225 pages, as that was about all I could take of their company. It left me feeling appreciative that at some point in her career, the author stopped trying to be Martin Amis and started being, well, Hilary Mantel.

  • Grace
    2018-12-02 16:51

    Rather unsettling.

  • Martinxo
    2018-11-18 17:43

    A mostly grim book with one or two comic moments. I only read the book because I was on holiday and had run out of novels. Recommended if you enjoy misery.

  • Odoublegood
    2018-11-28 19:46

    a tale of horror told chiefly by implication

  • Kerstin
    2018-11-23 18:43

    Kurzbeschreibung:Längst haben es die Nachbarn aufgegeben, mit Evelyn und Muriel Axon Kontakt zu pflegen. Das ist Evelyn, die früher gelegentlich als Medium arbeitete und sich von Geistern verfolgt fühlt, nur recht. Zusammen mit ihrer Tochter verbarrikadiert sie sich in ihrem Haus, das mehr und mehr verfällt. Mit den Sozialarbeitern, die ihre geistig behinderte Tochter fördern wollen, wird sie schnell fertig. Aber wie soll sie mit Muriels Schwangerschaft und dem Kind, wenn es denn mal da ist, umgehen?Isabel Field ist die neueste Sozialarbeiterin, die den Widerstand der Axon-Damen brechen will. Sie ist ähnlich verbissen und starrköpfig wie Evelyn. Und hat ebenso viele Probleme: einen sexuell sehr aktiven Vater, der seine Eroberungen in den Waschsalons der Kleinstadt macht, und einen schwärmerischen, aber angstgetriebenen Liebhaber, Colin Sydney, der Abendklassen besucht, um seiner dominanten Frau zu entkommen.Wäre da noch Muriel. Sie scheint ganz offensichtlich ein eigenes Leben zu haben, von dem weder ihre Mutter noch die Sozialarbeiter etwas ahnen. Und man fragt sich, ob Muriel wirklich so behindert ist, wie alle glauben. *Quelle*Zur Autorin:Hilary Mantel wurde 1952 in Glossop, England, geboren. Nach dem Jura-Studium in London war sie als Sozialarbeiterin tätig. Sie lebte in Botswana und in Saudi-Arabien. Für den Roman Wölfe (Dumont 2010) wurde sie 2009 mit dem Booker-Preis, dem wichtigsten britischen Literaturpreis, ausgezeichnet. Mit Falken, dem zweiten Band der Tudor-Trilogie, gewann Hilary Mantel 2012 den Booker erneut. Bei Dumont erschienen zuletzt der Roman Brüder (2012), der Erzählungsband Die Ermordung Margaret Thatchers (2014) und ihre Autobiographie Von Geist und Geistern (2015).Meinung:Evelyn Axon, ein ehemaliges Medium, und ihre 33-jährige Tochter Muriel leben völlig isoliert und ohne jegliche soziale Kontakte in ihrem langsam zerfallenden Haus. Muriel wird vom Sozialamt betreut, denn sie ist nach deren Aussage und der Ansicht ihrer Mutter geistig zurückgeblieben. Doch die Betreuung gestaltet sich als schwierig, da Mutter Evelyn die Betreuer so gut wie nie ins Haus lässt.Erst Isabel Field, neu für diesen Fall zuständig, versucht, an Mutter und Tochter heranzukommen. Doch auch sie hat es nicht leicht im Leben, denn sie ist eine Affäre mit dem verheirateten Colin eingegangen, die ihr schon bald nicht mehr behagt, da er seine Frau Sylvia auf keinen Fall verlassen will. Zu guter Letzt stellt sich heraus, dass Muriel schwanger ist. Wie werden die beiden zurückgezogen lebenden Frauen damit umgehen?Jeder Tag ist Muttertag ist der Debütroman Hilary Mantels, der bereits im Jahr 1985 im Original erschien.Sie beschreibt auf eine bitterböse Art und Weise die Geschichte der Axons, Mutter Evelyn und Tochter Muriel, im Jahr 1973. Der Vater ist seit geraumer Zeit verstorben, Evelyn verdingte sich als Medium, was sie aber aufgegeben hat. Seitdem quälen sie nicht näher genannte Geister in ihrem eigenen Haus, die sie ärgern, sie stolpern lassen und ihr an manchen Tagen den Zutritt zu bestimmten Zimmern anhand von geschriebenen Zetteln verbieten.Muriel, die 33-jährige Tochter, wird von ihrer Mutter als zurückgeblieben betitelt und wenig geliebt. Sie ist ihr eher eine Last, was sie sie immer wieder durch ihre Aussagen spüren lässt. Das Sozialamt lässt sich nur sporadisch blicken und wenn, wird diejenige Mitarbeiterin meist schon an der Eingangstür von Evelyn abgekanzelt, und es wird sich auch nicht weiters um das Mutter-Tochter-Gespann, das zusehends verwahrlost, gekümmert.Erst Isabel Field, die deren Fall neu übernimmt, möchte den Axons näherkommen, doch auch sie beißt auf Granit. Auch ihr Privatleben wird von Hilary Mantel näher beleuchtet, in dem sie eine Affäre mit dem verheirateten Colin unterhält, der ein ausgemachter Pantoffelheld ist. Seine Frau Sylvia hat in der Familie das Sagen und seine drei Kinder tanzen ihm nur auf der Nase herum, was in mancher Situation schon fast erschreckend wirkt.Hilary Mantel zeichnet hier ein entlarvendes und oft schon in groteske Züge abschweifendes Bild aller Beteiligten. Keiner der Charaktere wird beim Lesen sympathisch, denn jeder hat seltsame Züge an sich, die schwer nachzuvollziehen sind. Vor allem Muriel ist ein sehr unzuverlässiger Charakter, denn bis zum Ende hin wird nicht klar, inwiefern sie wirklich behindert ist oder ob sie einfach nur ein wahnsinniges Talent zur Schauspielerei besitzt, was sich ab und an durchaus abzeichnet.Hier bin ich jedenfalls sehr auf die Fortsetzung gespannt, die im August 2016 unter dem Titel Im Vollbesitz des eigenen Wahns erschienen ist und die hoffentlich noch ein paar offene Fragen, die sich für mich ergeben haben, beantworten wird.Fazit:Ein Roman, der von seiner bitterbösen Boshaftigkeit und seinem sehr schwarzen Humor lebt. Hilary Mantels Debüt seziert das Leben seiner Protagonisten bis ins Detail und konnte mich sehr gut unterhalten. Lesetipp!

  • Uli Vogel
    2018-11-25 16:57

    A whole community full of not really likeable individuals. I was sort of relieved when that horrible Evelyn went.... most of the characters can only be pitied. Do not read this book if you think misanthropy is a vice.I continue with its sequel.

  • Buchdoktor
    2018-12-05 17:52

    Vor langer Zeit hat Evelyn Axon einmal als Medium gearbeitet und Kontakt zu Verstorbenen aufgenommen. Seitdem scheint im Haus die Zeit stillzustehen. Evelyn und ihr inzwischen verstorbener Mann waren stets für sich geblieben. Das war vermutlich auch besser so; denn Evelyn hatte ihren eigenen Kopf und sah nicht ein, ihre Wäsche so auf die Leine zu hängen, wie ihre Nachbarinnen es für richtig hielten. Wir befinden uns im Jahr 1973, als britische Milchmänner die Milch noch in Flaschen vor die Tür stellten und man eine Telefonzelle suchen musste, um von unterwegs jemanden anzurufen. Evelyn lebt mit ihrer vermutlich geistig behinderten Tochter Muriel zusammen. Muriel ist in der Schule zweimal sitzen geblieben und anschließend in der Sozialbürokratie verloren gegangen. Was genau ihre Behinderung ausmacht, bleibt ungeklärt. Muriel könnte ebenso gut völlig normal sein. Vielleicht ist sogar Evelyn das Problem; denn sie hört Stimmen und wird von frechen Wesen in ihrem eigenen Haus bestohlen, geschubst und schikaniert. Das Haus verfällt langsam. Evelyn kann keine Glühbirne auswechseln, wüsste vermutlich noch nicht einmal, wo man so etwas heute kauft. Sozialamt und Jugendamt versuchen, Evelyn dazu zu bringen, Muriel in eine Tagesstätte für Behinderte zu schicken. Schließlich kann Evelyn nicht ewig allein für Muriel sorgen. Doch Evelyn verhält sich den Sozialarbeitern gegenüber feindselig. Wer die Briefe an Evelyn und die Aktennotizen über Mutter und Tochter Axon liest, den wundert das nicht. „Bitte zögern Sie nicht, uns zu kontaktieren,“ schreiben sie immer wieder. Die Ämter scheinen um ihrer selbst willen zu existieren und nicht zum Wohl der Klienten. In dieser ohnehin beklemmenden Situation gibt es Anzeichen, dass Muriel schwanger sein könnte. Mutter und Tochter sind nicht in der Lage, Hilfe von außen anzunehmen, so dass man für die Schwangere und ihr Baby nun das Schlimmste befürchten muss.In ihrem ersten (1985 erschienen) Roman erzeugt Hilary Mantel eine beklemmende Situation mit grotesk bis boshaft gezeichneten Figuren. Außer Mutter und Tochter Axon treten die Nachbarin Florence auf, deren Bruder samt Familie und Geliebter und mehrere Sozialarbeiter. Die raffinierte Verknüpfung der Figuren miteinander war für mich erst allmählich durchschaubar. So kompliziert hätte die Konstellation für meinen Geschmack nicht sein müssen. Der dargestellte Konflikt ist - erschreckend - zeitlos, wenn Menschen ohne Hilfe von außen nicht mehr zurechtkommen, diese Hilfe aber vehement und mit allen Tricks ablehnen. Gerade das Wissen, dass die Autorin selbst als Sozialarbeiterin tätig war, ließ mir hier entsetzt die Haare zu Berge stehen. Die Vorgänge im Haus Axon sind unbestreitbar gruselig; sicherlich könnte man sich darüber auch empören. Das Buch hat in seiner Trostlosigkeit bei mir ähnliche Gefühle ausgelöst wie McEwans Der Zementgarten oder O’Donnells Bienensterben. Wer die genannten Bücher schrecklich fand, wird mit Mantels Erstling vermutlich nicht glücklich. Wer jedoch ihre listige Art der Personenbeschreibung schätzt, liegt hier richtig.

  • Mary Ronan Drew
    2018-11-22 21:59

    Every Day Is Mother's DayI didn't discover Hilary Mantel until Wolf Hall was published. I like to think of myself as well-read but somehow she had slipped through the cracks. So I only recently became interested in her as a person and in her work. I read her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, which I'll talk about in another post when I get my emotions and opinions about it under control.When I read a post on dovegreyreader about her first novel, Every Day Is Mother's Day (1985), I decided to read all of her books in order. There are only a dozen or so mostly short novels, some novellas, and two memoirs and for someone who regularly reads authors like Anthony Trollope and Frances Hodgson Burnett, who both wrote more than 50 very lengthy books, Mantel's oeuvre will be easy to handle.This first novel is brilliantly written, as one would expect even from Mantel's earliest work. It is also disturbing, with deeply dislikeable characters. It is about a social worker, Isabel, and the vicious young girl and her mentally confused mother whom the social worker tries to help. Isabel has problems of her own, mired in an unworkable affair with Colin, another deeply dislikeable character. His wife and sister are not much better. All these characters are warped and tangled in the lives of the others.I do not like the book, but I appreciate it. In fact, I am about to buy a copy because it's a novel that needs re-reading. Mantel's next work, Vacant Posession, is a sequel.For an excellent review of the book, go to the dovegreyreader review.By the way, the only seller offering the first edition on abe.com is asking $2000 for the book.

  • Samantha
    2018-12-11 22:03

    this wasn't quite as good as the other 4 star books I just read, but it was better than a 3 star. mantel's writing is excellent - I have read wolf hall and bring up the bodies and love them. I think mainly the end wasn't completely satisfying to me, it got a little ghost storyish and I didn't think that was necessary. but hilary mantel did, so I'll defer to her! this was a unique story, with a strange mother-daughter pair and what has been a sort of theme for me lately in the shining and the haunting of hill house, although this was less supernatural than both of those. what contains the badness, the people or the house? it always seems to be a combination of both a bad place and screwed up people. screwed up people are more vulnerable to a malevolent place, places get worse because of the horrific things enacted in them by the screwed up people. her construction was interesting, there were two main locuses - a mother-daughter pair and a marriage/family, and then two other women, a sister and a mistress. with these, there were parallels (i.e. pregnancies) and connections that felt very true to life, or at least the way I experience parallels and connections in my life. there wasn't really one likeable character in the book, but where that can often annoy me, it was no problem here. definitely dark and not at all uplifting. but not a depressing read, really - I think because you don't really identify with the characters that much. anyway, well crafted, well written. I think mantel is probably always worth reading.

  • Sherry Howland
    2018-11-23 16:39

    Dang, this was disappointing! After being swept up in Mantel's "Wolf Hall," I was looking forward to seeing how she would handle contemporary people and situations. Verdict: Not so well. There are 2 basic story lines happening here. The first deals with Evelyn Axon, a widowed mother of a (maybe) mentally challenged pregnant daughter, Muriel. Evelyn, a locally renowned spiritualist, is gradually losing her grip on reality and is convinced evil spirits are taking over their ramshackle flat, room by room. A corresponding story follows a Social Services counselor, Isabelle Field, assigned to monitor Muriel, but more likely to be found having a desultory quickie with an unhappily married school teacher saddled with a drinking problem and a nagging pregnant wife. Does this sound like a fun read? Mantel's talent for well-drawn characters is in full display here, but none of these characters was the least bit sympathetic or even interesting. The conclusion to Muriel's pregnancy was utterly depressing and somewhat disorienting. Isabelle Field's story all but faded into nothingness by the book's end. All in all, can't recommend it under any circumstances.

  • Lisa
    2018-11-24 21:42

    Day is Mother’s Day (1985) is an early novel by Hilary Mantel, now a the bestselling Booker Prize winner of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies fame. It is quite different in style to the Tudor novels, more like Beyond Black which I read and enjoyed for his sardonic humour in 2005.The ironic title refers to the battle of wills between Mrs Axon, the vicious mother of Muriel, who’s not too intellectually disabled to wage war of her own; and Isabel Field, the hapless social worker who’s completely out of her depth with this woman. Isabel is also having a lacklustre affair with a teacher called Colin Sydney, and she loses the file on the Axon case.Black humour charts impending disaster. Isabel briefly succeeds in getting some stimulation for Muriel at a sort of day centre, but that leads to a disaster only too common for intellectually disabled young women, and that’s when Mrs Axon shuts and bolts the door against any interference.It’s a grim book, but it shows Mantel’s early skill in characterisation, and her talent for poking fun at pretension. Sandra Duncan does a fine job of narrating the story.

  • Robert Ronsson
    2018-11-22 20:37

    When I read established writers' first novels I do it with part of my mind asking the question: how did this one jump out of the slush-pile? This is one of the few where the answer is easy to see. It's now 30 years since its publication yet it still strikes me as innovative in its use of language and dynamic in the way Mantel hurries her characters through the plot. It's like she's a grandmaster playing multiple-opponent, against-the-clock chess. Each of the scenario boards is given the minimum of attention to assess its current potential, a piece is shifted, the timer is slammed and she moves on.This frenetic scene shifting is off-putting at first but once the reader adjusts to the pace it's best to fasten your seat-belt and enjoy the ride.Other readers have made observations about the bleak lives that Mantel describes but they should remember that this is a new writer cutting her teeth - these characters were right for this book.I've read here that there's a sequel. I'll look out for it.

  • Jean Carlton
    2018-12-13 21:04

    I finished this book and ....was not sure what I thought of it. After more reflection, I cannot say I 'liked' it. The blurb on the back uses the word 'hilarious' (and terrifying)...It was in no way funny to me let alone hilarious - terrifying, yes. Sad and dark, I think it says more about the world of the mentally ill and the inadequacies of the social service agencies than anything else. Woven into the weird horrifying parts is the connection of a married man having an affair with the social worker assigned to this disturbing case. I must say, however, that I did want to keep reading. I did want to know what would happen. The quality of writing held me. If you are curious enough after this review to read it,do so at your own risk.

  • Maria Longley
    2018-11-21 00:02

    This is quite a debut novel. And Muriel Axon is quite a character. This is a book of very black humour, an odd and quirky story, and is probably quite British (of the 1970s variation)... "Happiness seems a bit ambitious" remarks Isabel Field and this does seem to be the case for most of the novel where Colins interesting method of staving off too much despair by playing a recording of Sousa marches because "you wouldn't kill yourself after that -- after you'd marched about a bit. It would be too ridiculous." Full of little details like that and mad surreal moments, and some scary ones too. Such a hard novel to describe, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  • Miss Karen Jean Martinson
    2018-12-04 20:41

    I loved this book! It's quirky and a little disturbing but also a really fun read. Mantel really knows how to let a story unfold, giving away enough information - but not too much - as you get to know the characters. In many ways, it's like getting to know people in real life. You take the available information, make assumptions or educated opinions about the person based on that information, and revise as necessary. The final third of the book really became an intensely fun build. I couldn't put it down once the momentum started going!

  • Louise
    2018-11-13 22:38

    I'm not entirely sure what I made of this book, it was all a bit glum....and grim in parts, nobody was happy..... I couldn't figure out if there were actual ghosts or if the daughter was inflicting all the pain on the mother(though towards the end it seemed the former), the casual revelation of child abuse was quite a shock.I think for me, as much as it was written well, it probably left me with more answers than I liked.

  • Carol
    2018-11-21 00:55

    One of her older efforts, a short, interesting book that is hard to describe. The characters are all seriously flawed, leading lives of quiet desperation. One very funny scene is at a dinner party where all the attendees are completely wasted. I think I liked it, but it's definitely not for all.

  • Jail
    2018-12-08 16:46

    This book is kind of unrelenting nightmare of everyone's worse traits and worse fears of how their life might turn out. It doesn't end up being completely harrowing as it's sequel "Vacant Possesion" or Patrick Mccabe's "The Dead School". But it's quite effective. The middle aged schoolteachers party near the end is a marvelous setpiece of dark humor

  • Erica
    2018-11-19 16:43

    Gives "Ethan Frome" a run for his money in the bleak department. And is full of ghosts, madness and quiet desperation, underlined by grim humor. This book made me cry and my heart pound, by turns. Her writing reminds me of Virginia Woolf; silky, precise and challenging.

  • Martha
    2018-12-07 20:45

    Mantel is very funny but you have to appreciate black humor.