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Summary

Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband's work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom's areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, and the streets are not a woman's territory; so she becomes confined in her flat. As her days empty of certainty and purpose, her life becomes a blank – waiting to be filled by violence and disaster.

©1988 Hilary Mantel (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Horrifyingly gripping. It urges the reader to suspend normal life entirely until the book is read." ( Sunday Times)

What listeners say about Eight Months on Ghazzah Street

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Disturbing

From the beginning of the book there is a sense of threat and oppression as the main character, a professional woman married to a man working in a Middle Eastern country, comes to grips with living in a misogynist, muslim, arab environment. As a woman she has no power, no status, no independence and no credibility in her own right. It is a very disturbing picture of life with the veil through the eyes of a western woman. Mantel maintains the tension to the end and this is a gripping novel, written as well as you would expect. Highly recommended.

21 people found this helpful

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A Superb Book

I am ashamed to say this was my first experience of Hilary Mantel's writing and it was a revelation. I was so impressed by her skilful and witty creation of characters, ex-pats and locals and their interactions and relationships. The choking, claustrophobic atmosphere of Ghazzah Street and its environs was moving, exciting and tense. There was no let up. I loved every single minute of it. I have to mention Sandra Duncan, who did a great job on the narration too. I am familiar with her acting work, so it was no surprise. But Hilary Mantel was, and she has got herself another fan!

13 people found this helpful

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Superbly atmospheric tale of ex-pat in Saudi

What did you like most about Eight Months on Ghazzah Street?

I thought the story built really well and you could feel the heat and the claustrophobia of the flat that the woman spent time in. The suspense was good and you felt slightly on edge (in a good way!).

What does Sandra Duncan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She is a very good narrator with nuanced accents.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me marvel at the way woman are treated in some countries and how money makes us accept this.

Any additional comments?

I definitely recommend it, I wasn't sure from the reviews but I really could not stop listening, totally gripping.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent

I love the imagery and descriptive nature of the narrative. The characters remind me of people we all know especially having lives and worked in the region. In a era when alternative facts seems to be king it’s easy to feel compassion for Fran as she lives her life in the shadows, almost disenfranchised and unable to grasp the reality of all that’s going on around her. That said, Hilary Mantel has written such a good novel I didn’t imagine for one minute that’s how the plot would be tied up at the conclusion.

5 people found this helpful

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Strangely disappointing

Beware slight spoiler. In this unclassifiable narrative Mantel gives us a dangerously mid-matched couple in a dangerous setting - the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Frances persistently ignores the unquestionably wise advice to not pry, while her husband is too inert to intervene. She constantly demands answers to questions that are horrifically perilous to ask, refuses to take note of the customs of a deeply alien culture and acts as if she’s in Slough or somewhere similar. Personally I found her so infuriating that I was honestly disappointed that she was still alive and at liberty at the book’s end. I was looking forward to her encounter with the fate that she so persistently and recklessly provoked and it would have been a much better book if she had.

2 people found this helpful

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culture shock & veiled threats

This subtle and clever novel gives a strong feel for what it is to be in an alien and oppressive culture surrounded by a mostly repellent ex-pat community. Tension builds and disaster ensues but don't expect resolution. I was engaged throughout, but I didn't love it.

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Mesmerising

Wonderful book full of small detail and with an ominous tension throughout. Beautifully read. Highly recommend.

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Entirely credible

The reader is bound to experience the atmosphere of low key menace In this novel. The characters are well written and convincing but the relatively pedestrian plot is highly effective for cultivating anxiety and paranoia. I found that it challenged any notions of ethnocentrism making me review my past experiences as an expat or even a tourist.

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'loved this, wonderful writer-narrator combination

'not for you if 'action' is your thing; this is a tableau; beautifully crafted with subtle, smart & apparently effortless narration.
I loved EightMonths & ironically, couldn't put it down.

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Brilliant ..Cultural differences & bondings

An unusual way to communicate the challenge of living in a different culture. While having the right dreams and yet the frustrations of divides which perhaps in some places cannot be crossed.. so never really knowing....