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Summary

Opening with "A Second Home", in which Mantel describes the death of her stepfather, Giving Up the Ghost is a wry, shocking, and beautifully written memoir of childhood, ghosts (real and metaphorical), illness, and family. Finally, at the memoir's conclusion, Mantel explains how a series of medical misunderstandings and neglect left her childless, and how the ghosts of the unborn have come to haunt her life as a writer.

©2003 Hilary Mantel (P)2012 W F Howes Ltd

What listeners say about Giving Up the Ghost

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Brilliant and moving !

This is a brilliant memoir from Hilary Mantel. On a personal note I can relate to her struggles very closely and there is much hope within the pages too. What an interesting and fascinating life. The narration is superb and I will definitely re-listen.

5 people found this helpful

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A Remarkable Book

Loved this book. The Author has not forgotten what it is like to be child. She writes so well about her observations and understandings as a child while practicing the art of behaving as adults expect. Parts are funny. Her medical history is appalling and arouses enormous sympathy. Although she takes some responsibility on herself for the lack of diagnosis she really shouldn't. However, if she hadn't suffered so much we may not have had the wonderful author of to day but have been admiring from afar a very able barrister! Many more lives are touched as a result of her shaming medical treatment.

4 people found this helpful

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A stunningly crafted memoir

An often painful listen as Hilary Mantel describes a life determined by her parents' separation and life with a stepfather and then by what can only be called medical negligence and bad practice, a state of affairs not uncommon in the 60s and 70s, channelling her into the superb writer she has become. Woven through is also the sense that the boundaries between worlds and people are not as solid for her as they are for most of us. Beautifully structured and written. Highly recommended.

9 people found this helpful

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A different kind of memoir

This was as close to being inside the mind of Hilary Mantel as you can get and I loved every minute. I'm just sad it was so short.

3 people found this helpful

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Acerbic but nice

What did you like most about Giving Up the Ghost?

The author's fiercely loud and beautiful use of words. They fight brilliantly with and for a hard life.

What did you like best about this story?

It is a prismatic, not " true" version of a life in depth..but of enormous value in breaking the ice in the ocean surrounding one's own life.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jane Wymark?

Sorry, but it is over acted..a terrible no, no in a memoir of significance. The person who read Mantel's short stories was more realistic in her approach.

Any additional comments?

Listen to this and enjoy.

2 people found this helpful

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Moving, sad, insightful. Mantel at her best.

A deeply moving memoir. The crisp insights are rich and rewarding. Beautiful narrator, such an amazing actor. Jayne Wymark is excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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Genius

I've just spent almost two days in her presence. So grateful to listen to her voice (albeit filtered slightly by Jane Wymark) and to have been given such glimpses into her world, her life. A treat and an honour. Now what? I'll have to resort to chocolate.

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Performance

Wymark deserves every one of the five stars. Some readers can be very flat. Mantel’s memory and unflinching storybis a thing of wonder

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Childlessness

HM tells her story with great feeling and style. It is remarkable not least of all for its focus and for what she doesn't say.

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Cheerfully sad

One often reads about the suffering of a genius. While it is difficult to hear the story of Hilary Mantel's suffering, she is clearly a genius. Her childhood is beautifully and cleverly told and the narrator is particularly excellent at this. It was a lovely ending too. I've never read any of her novels but am a fan now and have already purchased Wolf Hall.

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  • Robyn
  • 29-07-13

slow start, wonderful middle and end.

For the first part of this book I had two very strong opinions - I was impressed by how beautifully it is written, but even the best writer must have something interesting to say and I just wasn't grabbed by any of the anecdotes and incidents from Hilary's childhood. But by the time she started university I was captivated, and her experiences with the medical profession are heart-breaking and recounted with such honesty I was fascinated and felt very privileged to be witness to everything she had gone through. The middle and end made up for the beginning so, overall I'm very glad I stayed with it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jenny
  • 23-09-13

Her Grief Observed

What made the experience of listening to Giving Up the Ghost the most enjoyable?

The anecdotes from the life of Hilary Mantel that are then reflected upon by the author and placed into the context of her whole life. It is a complex book, but there is a simplicity about it that is very graceful.

What other book might you compare Giving Up the Ghost to and why?

Clearly, by my plagiarism of his title, C S Lewis' book, ' a Grief Observed'. Although Lewis is writing about the death of his wife, and his responses to it; and Mantel is writing about her never-born child, to me they are very synchronistic in their integrity and openness.

I did not think either wrote of raw pain, but rather of observed pain. They were able to experience and then describe an internal feeling.

Have you listened to any of Jane Wymark’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I have watched innumerable 'Midsomer Murders' though.

In this book, I found her voice sympathetic and expressive. It told the story without being in any way obtrusive to it.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I do not think this could be made into a film. It is too intimate and inward looking. The actual story of the author's life is not remarkable and would not really make for good watching.

What is remarkable is how Hilary Mantel focusses on her emotional responses to the events of her life - and that is something that can only be presented in words, not pictures.

Any additional comments?

The book is complex and rewarding. It is short and beautifully crafted.

I think it speaks to all of us, as each one of us has had a deep loss at sometime in our lives.

It is important to say that such a complex book will not satisfy in a single listening/reading. There is too much in it to take in. However given its brevity it is easy to listen to a 2nd and even a 3rd time with as much interest in it as was there the 1st time.