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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  1,605 ratings  ·  141 reviews

From the double Man Booker prize-winning author of ‘Wolf Hall’, this is a dark fable of lost faith and awakening love amidst the moors.

Fetherhoughton is a drab, dreary town somewhere in a magical, half-real 1950s north England, a preserve of ignorance and superstition protected against the advance of reason by its impenetrable moor-fogs. Father Angwin, the town’s cynical p

Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published (first published 1989)
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One of Hilary Mantel’s early novels; this is quite an oddity and if you have a working knowledge of the Catholic Church, very funny. It is set in northern England in the mid 1950s in a mill town on the edge of a bleak moor. The Catholicism is pre Vatican 2 and very Latin; heavily laced with superstition.
The novel revolves around the parish priest Father Angwin who long ago lost his faith and believes only in the devil and tradition. He is plagued by the Bishop who is modern and trying to bring
Do you ever get that feeling when reading a book that you're a part of something special and very important, but you aren't entirely sure that you can grasp the entirety of what the author is presenting to you? That is the feeling I had with Fludd. It didn't seem as though there was much plot to the book until the very end, and then all at once I was finished and was left feeling as though I had read everything closely but had somehow missed The Big Picture.

The book is about religion and faith a
I liked the book and hope someday to read her Booker prize in paperback. But I think this was written for Believers of a particular stripe--those who object to the Church's cruelty and narrowness and yet who want to keep its belief in magic. The conceit is that Fludd is an alchemist of another era, but in this era, he's an alchemist of the human spirit. He helps transform several lives of those imprisoned in the demeaning, cruel thinking and practice of the Church. You naturally cheer for their ...more

Mantel won the Booker Prize a few weeks ago for her new novel, which alas sounds totally unappetizing to me. However, I decided it really was about time I read some of her work -- and Fludd was the first book that came to hand.

In the mid-1950s in a ghastly English Midlands village called Fetherhoughton, whose shambling atavistic inhabitants regard themselves, probably wrongly, as at least superior to the denizens of neighbouring village Netherhoughton, there's trouble afoot in the Catholic churc
“Not a word, not a word of love, Perhaps, she thought, he does not love in the ordinary way. God loves us, after all, He manifests it in cancer, cholera, Siamese twins. Not all forms of love are comprehensible, and some forms of love destroy what they touch.”

After devouring Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, I was ready for another Mantel. Fludd is a small, tight irreverant novel about God, belief, love, faith, innocence and knowledge. There were segments of this novel where the threads of the
Justin Evans
Perhaps the most disappointing book I've read in a while. The first two thirds are fascinating and excellently done: a range of great if type-cast characters, including the witty, non-believing priest, the 'modernising' (read: self-serving) bishop, the downtrodden spinster housekeeper, the repulsive but somehow attractive proles, the awful senior nun. Add to that the mysterious Fludd - who may or may not be the early modern alchemist, dedicated to effecting transformation in all he touches - and ...more
You know I'm in a bit of a quandary about 'scoring' this book...I did really enjoy it, but I had almost completely forgotten I'd read it at all, and I only finished it a few days ago! Does that mean it was less impressive than I thought? I think it was just eclipsed a bit by 'Cannery Row'...

Mantel tells the story of Fetherhoughton, a Northern mill village inhabited largely by 'brutish tea-swilling inhabitants', according to the blurb on the back cover. This IS largely true, but the blurb also ma
As if Barbara Pym had slipped on the clothes of allegory and mysticism. A waspish, witty but not entirely critical evocation of tired Catholic culture and one nun's release - via the enigmatic, alchemical Fludd - from her moribund state. The deadening, hopeless atmosphere of the book's Northern town setting is particularly powerful.
I picked this one up to help while away the time while Hilary Mantel completes the Cromwell trilogy. This is quite a tricky little book; writing this review helped me understand it better, and to like it more, so I'm going up a star.

I have a theory that this is primarily a story about compassion (as in "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people", Isa 40:1) - compassion on a grand scale, not merely for the individual characters specifically affected by Fludd's visit but also for the undifferentiated mass
Moira Downey
Engaging, but slight, particularly when placed in contrast to Wolf Hall.

"The Protestants were damned, of course, by reason of this culpable ignorance. They would roast in hell. A span of seventy years, to ride bicycles in the steep streets, to get married, to eat bread and dripping: then bronchitis, pneumonia, a broken hip: then the minister calls, and the florist does a wreath: then devils will tear their flesh with pincers. It is a most neighborly thought."
I could not make head or tail of this book. Who Fludd was, why he appeared, why the shenanigans with the statues of the saints took place, and everything else between the covers was completely baffling to me. Was this a critique of Catholicism? Of parochialism? Of modernity? Of faith? No clue.
In her usual oblique and telling manner of approaching human affairs, Mantel depicts the mixture of the banal and the psychologically odd in the belief system of a rural village. A minor novel masterfully told.
Rachel Stevenson
Hilary Mantel writes with the light irony of Anita Brookner and the northern bathos of Alan Bennett:

“Or perhaps, she thought, it is some poor sinner with blood on his hands ridden over the wild moors to ask for absolution. But glancing at the clock she knew this could not be so for the last bus from Glossop had passed through twenty minutes earlier.”

“'No time for tea,' said the Bishop, 'I've come to talk to you on the subject of uniting all right-thinking people in the family of God.'”

Mantel rej
Yvann S
"The arrival of Father Fludd in the parish was marked by a general increase in holiness"

The curate Fludd is sent to the village of Fetherhoughton to assist Father Angwin in his priestly duties. Fludd, however, is not at all as expected - to quote from the blurb: "loving beauty and language, sowing scandal and unrest in Fetherhoughton, might he not be the devil?"

Almost a month later, I'm still not quite sure what to make of Fludd.

Good things:

- small village idiosyncracies; bonus points for inter-
With Fludd, Mantel reveals a kinship with Muriel Spark - the ability to crawl under the skin of an isolated community (in this case an entwined collection of isolated communities) and investigate its innards with a sharp wit and an understanding heart. Here we have a Lancashire mill-town populated with Irish Catholic mill-workers who, according to their priest, would no more understand the Mass given in English than in Latin, locked in mutual misunderstanding and enmity with the heathens of the ...more
A strange and beautiful trip that leaves me unsure how to respond. The reading experience--thoroughly surprising--seemed at first to put the novel in line with take-downs of provincial life where the townsfolk are narrow and stunted, physically and morally, and are interested mainly in squashing the protagonist who dares to be different.

But there is a generous moral imagination at work here that exceeds such caricatures - and it works through Mantel's marvelous descriptions, which others have n
What a disappointment; after the first few chapters of eccentric characters **SPOILER ALERT**(loved father angwin blurting out his uncensored thoughts to the bishop! and his solution to the loss of faith), i was rubbing my hands together with glee, anticipating a great story of strange happenings. Well, not so much. Sister Philomena became the main character and she was not so interesting. And then her life is changed by sexual awakening. And then he leaves her. HUH? That was just strange & ...more
I find this book really hard to judge. The first chapter is laugh-out-loud funny, and Mantel's satirical portrayal of the bigotry of small-town people in an imaginary British mill town is priceless. Then the tone shifts pretty much permanently, and the mood of the rest of the book is delightfully eery. The turning point is probably the scene where the title character "appears", quite literally, during a dark and stormy night, and introduces himself. The priest's servant who opens the door misund ...more
A short novel of the first rank, funny and grotesque and, for me, oddly tender even at its most acerbic. I didn't see its criticisms--implicit or explicit--directed at Catholicism, specifically, so much as provincialism, narrowness of spirit, and poverty of imagination. In their place, Mantel gives us a world utterly compelling in its banality, tragic in its absurdity, and yet redeemed in its capacity to sustain wonder.
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It was ok....Thought I'd see what else mantell had written other than wolf hall and bringing up the bodies.
Nice enough in its way, but for me didn't really go anywhere...fludd wasn't enough of an enigma....
This seems to start as a humorous takeoff of small town Catholicism in England, but moves on to be a story of the devil stopping by and improving some lives. Or at least so it seemed to me.
Still sorting out just what happened, but certainly found the writing magical. Thanks to Judith for sending me this book.
Kate Sylvan
Reasons to read Fludd:

1. The narrator is just fantastic. She (no gender is indicated, so in the spirit of misandry I'm assuming she's female) is straight-faced but very funny; she is wearily contemptuous of the villagers of Fetherhoughton, but also understands them so thoroughly that it's clear there's not as much distance between them as she might like. Consider this description:

For shoes, the women wore bedroom slippers in the form of bootees, with a big zip up the middle. When they went outd
Aug 13, 2013 Sandra rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
I just couldn't get into it at all. Read the first few chapters, but I found the breezy writing and caricatured characters just annoying. I then went to the last few chapters, thinking that maybe things would develop and I'd be intrigued enough to finish this short book, but the last seemed exactly like the first: breezy and perhaps fable-like, but not enough for me to have a desire to finish reading it.

One reviewer on Amazon said that nothing happens until the very end, and even then it's confu
Lissa Notreallywolf
I loved this book even if it took a historical figure Fludd and placed him in the 1950's. I don't think he's never introduced by his Christian or first name, so one can only speculate that he is related to the historical Robert Fludd. But he is an alchemist of souls in the gritty mythical moor town of Fetherhoughton, with it's shadow hamlet Netherhoughton. My first thrill was reading about the slipper fashions of the inhabitants, and the phrase "by February its [pink or blue nylon ruff] fibers w ...more
This is Mantel's fourth novel. I adored her most recent two, was disappointed with her first, so this time, went for one from the middle. I absolutely loved her style in this one. The story is set in a grim fictional Northern Moor town, not completely unlike my own, and knowing where Mantel is from, possibly not unlike the one she grew up in either.

The story is set in the fifties, and the disclaimer at the front of the book tells us vaguely that the Roman Catholic Church did in fact bear “some
Article written for Listen: The magazine of the Lay Community of Saint Benedict

This time last year I, like many others, was deep in the Booker prize-winning Wolf Hall. Almost every reviewer of this whopping tale of Thomas Cromwell found it necessary to comment on Hilary Mantel's portrayal of Thomas More which has been as often praised as criticised because it is darker than Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons. However, with a second volume to come I'm not yet going to venture an opinion, but wil
Zoe Brooks
This book was published in 1989 long before Mantel became a household name (in households that pay attention to the winners of the Booker Prize), indeed when I first read it she was relatively unknown. It was the second book of hers that I read, the first being Beyond Black another magic realism novel. And as a result of reading both I went on to buy every book of hers I could find.

There have been a flurry of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon recently by people who have read Wolf Hall and want to
I wasn't sure what to expect with this, after having read Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Would I enjoy Mantel in a more contemporary setting? The answer is a resounding "yes". Although this is a slight novel (it doesn't even crack 200 pages) the story is sharp and decisive, the descriptions and writing are biting but not without affection for the characters (if not for the town itself). Father Angwin is the parish priest of Featherhoughton. He is struggling with his loss of faith coming on t ...more
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What's The Name o...: Book about a young priest in an Irish town in the 60s[s] 16 157 Nov 21, 2012 10:54AM  
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Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of many novels including Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Bring Up the Bodies, Book Two of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, was also awarded the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An ...more
More about Hilary Mantel...
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2) A Place of Greater Safety Beyond Black Wolf Hall / Bring Up the Bodies

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“Not a word, not a word of love, Prehaps, she thought, he does not love in the ordinary way. God loves us, after all, He manifests it in cancer, cholera, Siamese twins. Not all forms of love are comprehensible, and some forms of love destroy what they touch.” 6 likes
“Innocence is a bleeding wound without a bandage, a wound that opens with every casual knock from casual passers-by. Experience is an armour.” 1 likes
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