Stories by: Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel’s spilling of language on a page stuns: imagery explodes from her pen. Each story is masterful, precise, poetic and stark, ruminating or terrifying or strange, and proves that language can merge into art. Emotion taut and tense, characters lost and found like luggage, Hilary Mantel excels. You don’t just read Mantel. You inhale her. If I could sneak into her pages, steal her sentences and imagery and place them in a museum, I would. Mantel is that good.
In The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Mantel’s characters are women and girls ruptured and dark, or survivors and transcendors. They fall from the womb of her pen and snatch up stories that reveal foundering women in an often political world. Like Kate Atkinson, Mantel’s women can be lost, found, or in-between, and they all reveal a transformative truth about their situation and their world. There is nothing hesitant about these stories. They explode and sizzle, singe and scar.
In Comma, the second story in the collection, Mantel conjures Mary Joplin, a bellicose child who is the 8 year old narrator’s best friend. The two girls run wild in the fields of the neighborhood, and reveal their social secrets: the narrator has a family who finds Mary Joplin white trash, and the 8 year old instinctively knows to hide her friendship with her strange companion.
Kitty, the narrator speaks: “I knew not to mention her name and the pressure of not mentioning her made her, in my imagination, beaten thin and flat, attenuated, starved away, a shadow of herself, so I was no longer sure whether she existed when I was not with her.”
While 8 year old Kitty knows that 10 year old Mary Joplin is not of her class, they become friends in a sizzling hot summer and discover the Hathaway house, where a rich woman closets a deformed child.
As they approach the house that the neighborhood shuns, Kitty says: “…and we knew without debate that it was the house of the rich.”
Kitty secretly makes fun of Mary with her mother, and yet she remains a child – her friend is wild and compelling and their friendship is natural. As Mantel juxtaposes the Hathaway house against the girl’s lives, we realize the nature of life. Adult’s judge. Children do not.
As their curiosity allows them their fierce curiosity and childlike brutality, the story ends as Kitty meets Mary as an adult, and they realize their small moment of innocence in a socially dictated world.
With ten stories unique, strange and tantalizing, Mantel shares her views poetically, harshly and with great love. A have to read.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories is available on Amazon.com as well as booksellers nationwide.