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I've lost someone important. There will be no more books. Maybe the greatest novelist of my lifetime.

I've lost someone important. There will be no more books. Maybe the greatest novelist of my lifetime.

20 comments

Oh! That hit me harder than any celebrity death I’ve heard of in years.

Thanks for posting, OP. I’ve only read her Cromwell books, but they weave their way into you like very few books can. I might go and light a candle now.

She was a woman of striking intelligence amd insight. A great loss for literature!

Where do you recommend starting, with her books?

That depends a lot on you! She's written long, dense historical novels (Wolf Hall and the rest of that trilogy, and A Place of Greater Safety) as well as shorter, sly, dark modern-day ones (Eight Months on Ghazza Street, Beyond Black). All are challenging! Definitely not comfort reading, but it is so good to be in contact with a mind like hers, so sharp, penetrating, and insight that somehow goes beyond compassion. I haven't actually read them all because they are such an investment of energy. But I will.

You so eloquently describe Mantel's mind and insight, but your comment made me smile because just yesterday I posted an update on Goodreads while reading The Mirror and the Light, writing, "This shouldn't be comfort reading, but comfort reading it is for me." I'd read the two previous novels in the trilogy several times and had written several essays digging deeply into them. I've also been fascinated by Tudor and Reformation-era history since childhood...but I agree they aren't what most people would define as comfort reading!

That's interesting. I'd like to be grown-up enough for it to be comfort reading! But I'm running out of time :)

Would you care to post anything from your essays?

Thank you! If I want a shorter modern one, what's your favourite?

Also, I saw the West End adaptation of the Wolf Hall books, but not the TV ones - if you've seen it, do you recommend?

Looks like she was one of us:

"I have never met JK Rowling, but I know her to be a woman who has brought much pleasure and done much good. I think the attacks on her were unjustified and shameful. It is barbaric that a tiny minority should take command of public discourse and terrify those who disagree with them."

"I recently found myself ‘misgendered.’ I received a university publication, with news items relating to alumni, where I was referred to as ‘they,’ not ‘she.’ My books were ‘their books.’ I wasn’t singled out – the other alumni were similarly treated."

"I thought, ‘Being a woman means a lot to me. My sense of it has been tested. I have thought deeply about it. I value it, even though it has meant struggle and pain. I do not want my womanhood confiscated in print. It is not right to deprive an individual of identity on a whim, and make him or her into something neuter, plural. I have not given my consent to become a grammatical error.’"

"I almost wrote to protest. But my husband said, ‘It’s a fad. It will pass.’ I think he’s probably right, and the controversy will become a footnote in cultural history."

https://www.repubblica.it/robinson/2021/09/03/news/interview_hilary_mantel_ireland_moving_jk_rowling_cancel_culture_boris_johnson_women_england_racism_repubblica_italian_newsp-316078121

I was just coming here to post about it:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-63007307

Could you tell us something about your connection to her? Which of her books first made an impact on you?

At a mid-point in my life, when I was deeply alone and living in a foreign country, the local used bookstore had her novel of the French revolution A Place of Greater Safety. I just happened to buy it and read it, and it was probably the first novel I ever read where as soon as I finished the last page, I turned back to the first and started all over again.

Somehow the ruthlessness and clarity of her vision made the book a perfect companion for me when I needed truth and strength to carry me through. And ever since, her writing has been a touchstone for me.

This is so beautiful to read! I haven't read any of her books except her Cromwell books (which I adore). I also thought her speech on "Royal Bodies" was so intelligent and humane.

What a loss. A brilliant mind and unique voice in fiction. Rest in power Hilary.

I've never heard of her. But you've got me interested in checking her out