'Beyond Black' was going in all sorts of directions at once. It was a story about Alison, a medium, who can see and talk to ghosts and also happens to be very fat. It was a story about her obnoxious, nasty assistant cum manager (who weirdly reminded me of my very own a...more
There's a lot to recommend in this novel about a professional psychic--who really does see ghosts--plying her trade in the working class suburbs of London. The profession itself becomes an excellent metaphor for writing: the spirits though genuine are often difficult to discern, and even when discerned do not always appear when summoned, and therefore the medium is forced to make do with psychological manipulation, theatrical effects, and charlatanry. The relationship between Alison the psychic...more
The novel is set around the turn of the millennium and forefronts the relationship between a medium named Alison and her assistant/manager/friend Colette. Since a very early age, Alison (whose mother is a prostitute) has been able to c...more
I'm having a hard time rating this book. I realized about 3/4 of the way through that I was still waiting for the story to begin. I couldn't believe I was almost finished with the book and yet in many ways it felt like I was still reading introductory chapters. I don't know if the plot was just too loose for me, or what. I did enjoy reading this book. I thought it had a lot of interesting characters and the author was able to strike a nice balance between sadness and laughter. But in many ways i...more
The main problem the s...more
Remember back, long ago, when in grade school we'd watch film strips? I remember feeling disappointment when the teacher would roll out the film strip machine instead of the movie projector. Why? The moving pictures, not the series of still lifes, I fo...more
(Thankfully, I already Wolf Hall so I know she can do better).
It's one of those books that you know could be better if something, but you're not sure what, was better or different. Yet, you feel like your stupid and not quite getting it. Until you realize The New York Times took ages to reveiw Na...more
An obese medium with a hellish past is plagued from the spirit world by the people who tormented and abused her as a child. She hires a business manager for her orderliness and penchant for beige. But her attempt to exorcise her very real demons with normality and new houses fails. She has to confront them head-on, remember her past, try and change her future. "Beyond Black" is a terrifying and emotionally draining parable. One character moves forward. The oth...more
Eh... Well I really liked this book nearly all the way through. Hilary mantel creates a really stifling and hum drum atmosphere that somehow doesn't make you want to automatically put the book down, but read on to find out what creepy thing will happen next.
And I say creepy as in difficult and uncomfortable reading. This is not a nice book in term of its subject matter, characters or story progression. I liked that mantel approached the subject of ghosts from a bland perspective. I also liked h...more
In brief, it's about a medium called Al who has a very matter of fact approach to her interaction with the spiritual world. Throughout the book we are g...more
Beyond Black is just that__so black it reaches beyond the dark and makes the unbelievable believable. A story that normalizes clairvoyance shouldn't work this well, but it does. Mantel discussed her own experiences with illness and ghosts in her memoir Giving Up the Ghost (2003), but this novel is pure fiction. A seedy sideshow of ghosts (at turns helpful, annoying, and evil), all-too-human characters, a British brand of humor, shrewd commentary on the state of the world, and rich prose make for...more
p. 155: "The lucky opals were occluded, steaming, as if their surfaces were secreting. There are things you need to know about the dead, she wanted to say. Things you really ought to know. For instance, it's no good trying to enlist them for any good cause you have in mind, world peace or whatever. Because they'll only bugger you about. They're not reliable. They'll pull the rug from under you. They don't become decent peo...more