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Fludd: A Novel

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  2,085 ratings  ·  173 reviews
One dark and stormy night in 1956, a stranger named Fludd mysteriously turns up in the dismal village of Fetherhoughton. He is the curate sent by the bishop to assist Father Angwin-or is he? In the most unlikely of places, a superstitious town that understands little of romance or sentimentality, where bad blood between neighbors is ancient and impenetrable, miracles begin ...more
ebook, 196 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Holt Paperbacks (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
“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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Hilary Mantel is best known in recent years for her award winning novels Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012). Given the accolades showered upon Mantel's fictional treatment of Tudor England, readers may be forgiven for overlooking one of her earlier novels, Fludd (1989.) Indeed, short, strange, tragicomic, and allegorical, Fludd could easily be dismissed as a curio, a relic from before Mantel's ascent to literary stardom. But like the novel's title character, Fludd conceals more than ...more
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
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.
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-
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
A curious little tale; I'd say it wasn't what I was expecting but I'm not sure what I was expecting. Such a bizarre collection of characters; a touch of The League of Gentlemen!

A suprising amount packed into so few pages. Rather a lot of similies in some passages; fun yes, but probably something she's reined in as she's matured as a writer.

I look forward to reading more from this author.
Tatyana Naumova
Прелестная и очень смешная маленькая книга о некоем таинственном Фладде, который то ли Фауст, то ли Мефистофель - а впрочем, кого волнуют эти аналогии. Иронично, умно, легко и с радостным ожиданием перемен даже там, где никакие перемены невозможны. Это у Гете все мрачно и прощение давит хуже мрамора, а у Мантел нужно думать про то, сало в пост - это мясо или масло, смеяться и отрицать мертвечину в разных обличьях.
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
It was ok. There were interesting turns of phrases, some words I have marked to look up, but the over all story didn't grab me. It seemed to be missing whole chunks of information, in different areas for different characters. I would have loved to learn more about the Mother Superior, the housekeeper, the tobacconist. There were so many questions why I wanted answered also: Why the war between the main priest and the Mother Superior, between him and the bishop; where did Fludd come from, why was ...more
S.H. Villa
This is a book I’ve enjoyed more than once, and will do so again. I am filled with admiration for how Mantel has drawn the character of Fludd – devil? angel? or just a catalyst? or maybe a sneaky literary device? Or best of all, all those at once.

Father Angwin, a priest who has lost his faith in God, but can’t think of what else to do with his life now he has reached his middle years, remains in place, subtly and not so subtly contradicting committed Catholics such as the Bishop, His Corpulence,
Sally Flint
A most interesting and peculiar read. I think this would make a great 'school's free choice' for IB lit. I need to read it again as I think I missed about 90 percent of the symbolism and so on, but it was fascinating in a strange kind of way. Set in the 1950s, but feeling far more historical, it centres around a Priest who, according to the Bishop, needs to modernise a little. The Bishop thinks there is no place for the statues of saints in the church and the Priest has to remove them and bury t ...more
Jamie Zalot
It was interesting. I will say that. I must clarify that this was a recommendation and not my normal genre. I am a sci-fi/fantasy girl. This is more of a real life mystery thing. I stopped reading mysteries when I was about 10 or 12. I started consistently figuring them out before the end of the book. It is hard to finish reading a book with no suprises. That was not the problem I had with this book. It wasn't a traditional mystery. There was no definitive ending. It was more of a vignette, a br ...more
Dave Morris
Hilary Mantel having been brought up in Glossop, it's a fair bet that the fictional Derbyshire mill town of Fetherhoughton derives in part from there. As filtered through the eyes of the local priest (and/or the narrator, more on that later) it seems almost like a fantasy locale, with the children from the neighbouring village of Netherhoughton (alt-world Hadfield?) playing with ouija boards in the aisle of the church.

The setting interested me particularly because Hadfield is the home of the Mor
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
Mary Ann
Brilliant! What this woman does with language and character is truly mind-boggling. Here we have hilarious comedy, biting satire, magical realism, and some sort of history interpretation (Robert Fludd, 1574-1637).
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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 The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

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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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