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3.48  ·  Rating details ·  3,244 Ratings  ·  244 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, 198 pages
Published (first published 1989)
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Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic-novels
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
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“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.”
- Hilary Mantel, Fludd


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 wher
Tiffany Reisz
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous little book. I'm so glad I read it.
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Nov 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magic-realism
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
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reluctant to give just four stars to a winner of the Man Booker prize, but I found Fludd murky and not nearly as captivating as the allusion to its alchemist forebear led me to expect. This novel is all about a small Catholic parish in Northern England. The timeframe is indefinite (I think) but it feels like the 1950s. The first half of the book describes the mundane travails of Father Angwin and a mostly miserable and impoverished group of nuns. The father must contend with a garrulous bish ...more
Justin Evans
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
This was a Book Club book (not my pick) and while it was perfectly readable, I didn't really get it. Too much remains unexplained at the end of the book and there are too many loose ends. Was Fludd an angel or a devil? Or neither? I found the characters intensely annoying and the town they live in sounds petty and small-minded.

I dunno. Maybe I read too many books that have a nice, neatly packaged ending and a moral worthy of an after-school special, but this book left me wondering, 'Is that it?'
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rachel Stevenson
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
It is so refreshing having read some unfortunate dross this year to read a book and it is just so good, you want to read it again. This book is just marvellous. It's the first time I've dipped my toes into the literary pool that is Hilary Mantel, although I really enjoyed the tv adaptation of Wolf Hall earlier this year. I came across this by chance at a guesthouse I was staying in, so I guess I've started off on one of the lesser known books, per chance.

Set in the midlands (in my perspective, a
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."
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, 2010
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.
Jun 19, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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....
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A fun book, placed in Britain in the 1950s, at the start of the decline of the power of the Roman Catholic Church. The story,set in that milieu, is pretty unpredictable. Well written, nicely observed with well-rounded characters, down-to-earth yet fantasy at the same time. Not a page turner, but an interesting read because it keeps you in the dark about what is going to happen next all the time. No laziness or sloppiness here -as compared to many contemporary bestselling authors - but a writer w ...more
Mrs. Danvers
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, woman-writer
Why did I wait so long to read this one? It's filled with wonderfully drawn characters- - and oh boy are they characters! -- and a sweet, tart, savory story. Mantel never ceases to amaze and delight me.
I think I've reached that point where, when you're massive fan of a certain author and you decide to read their other published novels, you end up regretting doing so because you find one that's pretty disappointing and sort of ruins your image of them.

Obviously, it's very well-written and some bits are quite witty, but...I don't know, I just don't think this book ever really got going? It feels like everything happens at the end, and what happens is actually very cliched? What *else* could poss
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Porter Sprigg
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
To be honest, this book started interesting. It was funny and weird enough to keep me engaged. But by the end, I was frustrated with the incredibly slow plot development, the questionable morality, and the emphasis of the bizarre to the point where the reader grows tired of it. The theology of transformation is displayed in a sketchy way that seems to incorporate both demonic and angelic power. If I wasn't so confused I'd probably be angry with the message Mantel wants me to hear from the book. ...more
Yvann S
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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-
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A dark, magic-realist cross between Cold Comfort Farm and Barbara Pym, revolving around dark goings-on in a Derbyshire village. It's very short and the first two-thirds are delightfully funny. Like CCF, the ending is a bit of a disappointment, focusing on the least interesting character. But it's worth it for the sheer pleasure of Mantel's flights of fancy. Here are the local kids returning from school:
They were few but conspicuous; their maroon school uniform, bought large so that they could gr
Grace Harwood
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whilst this is not quite as compelling as Wolf Hall, I did enjoy this book about a not quite genuine Catholic Priest. Like all of Mantel's books, the writing is deft and witty, with wonderful characterisation - I loved Sister Philomena, the feisty, unorthodox nun, the nosy housekeeper Agnes Dempsey and the embittered atheist, Father Angwin. It's hard to tell whether the supernatural elements in the story are actually genuinely supernatural or quite ordinary events. The setting (which I know well ...more
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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
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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.” 7 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.” 2 likes
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