Hilary Mantel has done something extraordinary. She has taken that ethereal halfway house between heaven and hell, between the living and the dead, and nailed it on the page. She has taken those moments between sleep and waking, when we hardly know who we are, or why, and turned them into a novel that makes the unbelievable believable. She persuades, she convinces, she offers an alternative universe, she uses the extraordinary descriptive skills that are her trademark — Mantel does “seedy” as no one else, except possibly Graham Greene in his early novels, The Confidential Agent and Brighton Rock. She produces characters — some dead, some partly dead, some barely alive but pretending — that are as strong and vivid on the page as if they were living or dying next door — if only you cared to go there. Most don’t, next door being a rather nasty and disturbing place. She’s witty, ironic, intelligent and, I suspect, haunted. This is a book out of the unconscious, where the best novels come from.
“Funny and harrowing . . . A great comic novel. Hilary Mantel’s humor, like Flannery
O’Connor’s, is so far beyond black it becomes a kind of light.”
—The New York Times Book Review
Macillan Publishers / Papyros Publications