27 January 2014

Beyond Black

Author: Hilary Mantel
Year: 2005
Pages: 451
Time It Took To Read: A day of pretty much solid reading

You wait all month to finish a book, and then do two in two days.
Oh, Hilary Mantel! I read the Cromwell books last summer and LIVED in them. I'm generally not a fiction fan, but Mantel writes obliquely enough for me to know exactly what she means without feeling it. It sounds like bollocks when you say you 'feel' what the characters feel when you read a book, but that's what I do. I don't visualise it, I feel it. In fact, I live it. It means books like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo make me feel awful for days after reading them. It's why I prefer non-fiction or fiction from a male perspective. 
Beyond Black is a book about women, and the men that have hurt them and made them miserable. It is also about mediums, and sceptics. I am a massive sceptic about mediums. I think they exploit the grieving with their utter bollocks, but this book makes you think well...what if they WERE real? What demons would they face every day, listening to the lost dead witter on? What if the dead held a grudge? Why do some people who hear voices get locked up or medicated, and others get TV shows? 
Alison, the medium, has a history of utter misery and secrets so dark, she is literally haunted by them. Colette, her manager, is a woman who has had a bitter, beige sort of existence. And Morris...Morris is grim.
There is a deep, sensual realism in Mantel's writing, that lets you breathe the world she describes. Places you know you've been: the new build estate, the flashy chain restaurant, the dodgy village hall, the relentless toll of the motorway - all drawn perfectly. 
I can't wait to read more of her stuff. 

Book count: 2/50

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