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Beyond Black

by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is one of my favourite authors, so I couldn't wait to dive in to the virtual reality of afterlife that she's created for this novel.

Alison is a medium who makes her living by passing messages between the spirit world and this one, and I loved the descriptions of life spent on the M25 driving to each small venue where she plys her trade, and the characters who inhabit both this world and the one to come.

Hilary Mantel has conjured up an England in which the dead exist all around us, no better and sometimes worse than they were when alive, and she writes so convincingly that I couldn't help feeling that she knows something the rest of us don't.

The story unravels slowly to reveal secrets Alison has kept even from herself; nothing momentous happens, there's no plot as such, yet I found it compelling for all that. I'd have liked Colette, Alison's manager who reorganises her somewhat untidy life, to have been a more sympathetic character, yet perhaps the tension that the relationship creates is needed to drive the story forward.

A highly original book, and one that stayed with me long after I'd finished reading.

Suggested by Thea Fitzgerald, Ireland

Tagged with: droll dry thought-provoking



I'm a few chapters into this book and have stopped reading for a while, but I shall have to carry on having read this review
I thought the title referred to the black humour evident in what happens to Colette - that even in the midst of the horror evoked by Alison's familiars , and her unhappiness at her past , it's funny that she manages to unship her personal demons in an unexpected way

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