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Beyond Black

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  5,353 Ratings  ·  641 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Colette and Alison are unlikely cohorts: one a shy, drab beanpole of an assistant, the other a charismatic, corpulent psychic whose connection to the spiritual world torments her. When they meet at a fair, Alison invites Colette at once to join her on the road as her personal assistant and companion. Troubles spiral out of control w
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by Picador (first published 2005)
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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 19, 2009 rated it liked it

There's not much here in the way of plot, but still 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 charl
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh god. Where do I even begin? Lots of reviewers complained they didn't know where the book was going. Well, I didn't know either, but I thought it was a good thing. Don't you just love when you don't know where the book is going?

'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
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, girly-stuff
It's raw, this kind of work, and near the knuckle: unsupported by music, lighting, video screen, it's just you and them and the dead, the dead who may oblige or may not, who may confuse and mislead and laugh at you, who may give you bursts of foul language very close up to your ear, who may give you false names and lay false trails just to see you embarrassed.

Alison is a medium and a consummate performer. She soothes her audience, gains their trust and even shuts down hecklers with a few well ch
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ghost-stories
Intermittently funny, sad, tragic, malicious and rather ghoulish novel; good in parts, but overlong and repetitive. It is certainly well written; Mantel is a great writer, as Wolf Hall has shown. The plot meanders rather a lot and doesn't really go anywhere.
The premise is simple. Alison is a psychic/medium, a good one, but rather disorganised. Colette becomes her sidekick and PA and organises her life. The dead, however are less easy to organise. Here's the key to the book. The dead are no diff
Every time I told someone I was reading this book, they inevitably mentioned Wolf Hall, Mantel's most recent novel and winner of the 2009 Booker Prize, and tended to assume I'd chosen Beyond Black because I'd already read Wolf Hall. In fact, the latter doesn't interest me at all; I can't remember where I first saw Beyond Black, but it was the plot outline that drew me in - a black comedy about a professional psychic, her assistant, and the spirits that haunt them - along with a quote from Philip ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is one of those books. You know those books, the ones that aren't bad, but aren't good, but you're not entirely upset you read, but they don't really inspire you to find anything more by the author.

(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
A page-turner. The first we've had for a while. By turns funny, ghastly and frightening. This book stayed with me, causing nightmares. The spirits inhabiting this world are thoroughly believable. I loved the conceit that just because a person is dead, it doesn't make what they have to say anymore interesting than when they were alive. I also loved the commercial world of the mediums with charlatans and everyone trying to make a quick buck. Some parts made me laugh out loud. Also thoroughly Dicke ...more
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
This is the first Mantel I've read since the late 1990s when I discovered Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, A Change of Climate, and An Experiment in Love. (I'll get to the Wolf Hall-business at some point.) Here we have two eccentric English ladies (and a foul-mouthed dwarf spook), and sometimes the relationship between the women reminded me of a marriage. For example this exchange, when one character retracts a suggestion she's made to the other, since the other keeps insisting she can't take it ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This novel is both horrifying and maliciously funny. Alison –Al- Hart, overweight medium, is making a good living, giving private readings and doing psychic fairs, but is always alone- at least, where living people are concerned. She can never escape from the dead, who follow her and bother her constantly. And here’s the thing: people don’t get any smarter or nicer when they die. They don’t undergo any spiritual awakening. If they were nasty and mean in life, that’s how they are in death. Al, su ...more
May 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Beyond Black is an uneven book that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be when it grows up. The main character, a genuine psychic named Alison, is a character you develop great sympathy for during the story. The storyline following how she unravels the questions about her tormented childhood is creepy and fascinating. She seeks to discover why dead people haunt her, especially a gang of wretched characters she calls "fiends" who act determined to make her life miserable.

The main problem the s
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*spoiler* for those of you who have read it... 4 81 May 19, 2015 05:28AM  
What's The Name o...: Oddly well written novel about a British medium [s] 3 40 Mar 04, 2014 01:26AM  
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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...
“At some point on your road you have to turn and start walking back towards yourself. Or the past will pursue you, and bite the nape of your neck, leave you bleeding in the ditch. Better to turn and face it with such weapons as you possess.” 13 likes
“The world beyond the glass is the world of masculine action. Everything she sees is what a man has built. But at each turn-off, each junction, women are waiting to know their fate.” 3 likes
More quotes…