Giving up the Ghost

Giving up the Ghost

A Memoir

Book - 2004
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From the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of 'Wolf Hall', a wry, shocking and beautiful memoir of childhood, ghosts, hauntings, illness and family.

'Giving up the Ghost' is award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel's uniquely unusual five-part autobiography.

Opening in 1995 with 'A Second Home', Mantel describes the death of her stepfather which leaves her deeply troubled by the unresolved events of her childhood. In 'Now Geoffrey Don't Torment Her' Mantel takes the reader into the muffled consciousness of her early childhood, culminating in the birth of a younger brother and the strange candlelight ceremony of her mother's 'churching'. In 'Smile', an account of teenage perplexity, Mantel describes a household where the keeping of secrets has become a way of life. Finally, at the memoir's conclusion, Mantel explains how through a series of 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.

Publisher: London : Harper Perennial, 2004, c2003
ISBN: 9780007142729
0007142722
Branch Call Number: 823.914 Mante 3558
Characteristics: 252, 10 p. :,ill

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Indoorcamping
Nov 03, 2018

The voice of Hilary Mantel as a child is captivating. You read the words but feel the little life shaping and fighting and wondering why things are the way they are. The beginning hooks you in, as you wonder why she has to sell a home she love so much - that's the giving up the ghost of the title - leaving all her memories behind, especially memories of her step-father who is the "ghost."

I still don't completely understand why she has to give up the ghost. I had to move 47 times with my first husband and none of those moves had anything to do with ghosts, memories, or conscious decisions that weren't financial or work-related, or horrid circumstances, actually. So it's still weird to me that someone would move on and not really have a destination or practical motive. That's rich people for you?

Regardless, she's rich because she's one of the best writers alive. So good on you, Hilary Mantel. Do whatever it takes to tell us stories about what it was like to grow up so cold, so poor, so sick, so awfully sick actually. Share your situation and your story, your family, your pain, your explanation of why you chose the best bad decision out of all the available bad decision options. Enlighten the rest of the world about being so poor yet so brilliant in a gray, opportunity-less world. Explain your strength, surviving so close to death for so many years.

This is a memoir full of wisdom about her specific small childhood that blooms into grandly-themed, big picture, life lesson-type wisdom. And that's what incredible writing does: brings the little, close experience into a relatable learning experience, regardless of circumstance.

ser_library Jul 22, 2010

reflection rather than memoir, covering life with severe and chronic pain from undiagnosed endiometriosis.

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