Giving up the Ghost

Hilary Mantel

‘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.

Reviews of Giving up the Ghost

  • ‘She is by turns facetious, matter-of-fact, visionary and comical but always totally riveting.’ Daily Telegraph

    ‘Simply astonishing – clear and true.’ Guardian

    ‘An extraordinary story, sometimes comic, often grim, but most importantly it is a story of survival.’ Spectator

    ‘A masterpiece of wit…[the] past, so thoroughly vanished, is made to live again here.’ Rachel Cusk

    ‘What a remarkable writer she is. She is piercingly, even laceratingly observant … a very startling and daring memoir; the more I read it the more unsettling it becomes.’ Helen Dunmore

    ‘I was riveted. It’s raw, it’s distressing and it’s full of piercing insights into a first-rate novelist’s mind.’ Margaret Forster

    ‘A stunning evocation of an ill-fitting childhood and a womanhood blighted by medical ineptitude. Hilary Mantel’s frank and beautiful memoir is impossible to put down and impossible to forget.’ Clare Boylan

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