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Summary

Alison Hart, a medium by trade, tours the dormitory towns of London's orbital ring road with her flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, passing on messages from beloved dead ancestors. But behind her plump, smiling persona hides a desperate woman: she knows the terrors the next life holds but must conceal them from her wide-eyed clients. At the same time she is plagued by spirits from her own past, who infiltrate her body and home, becoming stronger and nastier the more she resists....

©2005 Hilary Mantel (P)2006 Isis Publishing Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Tedious

Would you try another book written by Hilary Mantel or narrated by Anna Betinck?

I've listened to Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies so I can't say I would not listen to other books by Hilary Mantel but I will definitely steer clear of any follow up to Beyond The black. The characters were weak as was the book. It may have been better to get it down to about half the size as it appears to be stuffed full of waffle and repetition. The idea may have been interesting, indeed it was the idea that attracted me to the book, but it died in the book. Anna Betinck did her best but there was no way any narrator could have improved the listen.

What will your next listen be?

Adam Bede - George Eliot.

What character would you cut from Beyond Black?

Almost all of them

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Genius of Mantel and Betinck

The genius of the Writer and the Narrator both makes this an all-star book .

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sad, Beautiful and Dreamlike

Hilary Mantel is a master. This book took me away from the first chapter and I was very much feeling like I was looking at Alison from an arms distance. She is so in flesh and bone, the way Mantel tells all the characters in this book is outstanding.
This is one of the books that will leave a mark on you. Don't read this if you're after a surprise ending, mysteries, or an action packed thriller. Read it if you want to breathe a slice of Alison's life- she is a medium, she is obese, and had a difficult childhood. She is bullied all the time and both by the dead, and the living.
This is a story of two women and English wastelands, suburbs. The people everyone thinks and the people no one cares about.
A well earned 5 stars. Amazing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • Dromahair, Ireland
  • 02-07-18

The Ghosts of Childhood

A medium, her sidekick and her link with the other side of the veil - a despicable old man. As usual Hilary Mantel is stunningly good. I read this story years ago and revisited as an audible book. Anna Betinck does a wonderful job and the book is a many layered exploration of childhood abuse transformed into a medium's shtick. There is no judgement of the protagonist but a peeling back of her reasons and hidden memories. I found this a fascinating insight into how suppressed memories can find their expression in the strangest ways.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Darkly funny

This book is a rollercoaster of sad, creepy, horrific and laugh-out-loud funny. Best book I've read for ages!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Unusual and dark

Dark and rather odd 'plot' but wonderful writing and a masterful reading that held the interest to the end

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful narration

I love this scary, funny book but Anna Betinck’s fabulous narration brings all the characters to life: even the dead ones. A brilliant listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Terry
  • Hemel Hempstead, UK
  • 22-09-18

So good

I often wonder if I'm really enjoying a book if I keep checking how much longer I have before it's finished but I loved this book. Considering the sometimes very dark topics, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I definitely see why Hillary Mantel wins awards, the written dialogue is the best I've ever heard. The narrator is outstanding - she totally brought Colette to life to the point where I could believe she really exists!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Weird and wonderful

I have to say that it was a pleasure to listen to the narrator# once you have it a go. Not at all as I expected. Definitely one to remember.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A so-so rambling story.

Modern day take on people who claim to see ghosts. A couple of interesting sections but not enough to keep any moment. Very well narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sue C
  • 15-11-18

Unusual,unlikely unforgettable

This is the first Mantel book I have read. I do not read new fiction until after the wave of enthusiasm from the reviewers has died down,and a book is holding its own.This was particularly true following the two years in succession when Mantel won the Booker Prize.
Beyond Black ,an earlier book, presents a biography of Alison a morbidly obese, kind woman with a rotten history of childhood who has the unlikely ‘profession’ as a medium in the outer suburbs of London . Alison is accompanied by spirits from her past, including one who seems to be her side kick who handles the finances.

Against this unlikely and haunting background ,we follow the life of this equally unlikely heroine following a tale which invokes another unlikely combination of unbearable terror ,sympathy and empathy. Even more unlikely, Alison’s daily life invokes laughter of the ‘out loud’ variety. We laugh with Alison not at her: This gives the reader time to draw breath. We laugh with humor not ridicule.
The end of the book arrives without a flourish and with an appropriate conclusion.

I loved this book and was irritated when I realized that I really had to get some sleep. I hope I have conveyed the essence of the book. I did not want to be guilty of ‘Spoiler Alerts’. Suffice it to say that as Woolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are not available to Audible listeners in Canada I bought two six disc C.D.s, copied them and found out how to transfer them to my iPad.

Anna Bentinck ,the perfect reader,always catches the exact tone and voice a book deserves. Her voice itself keeps one in the book,one's mind never wanders. It is true that if she read aloud the instructions for a device that came with 'Some Assembly Required'.we would still be enthralled by her voice.We might also complete the assembly.