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The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  8,999 ratings  ·  1,376 reviews
HILARY MANTEL is one of Britain's most accomplished and acclaimed writers. In these ten bracingly transgressive tales, all her gifts of characterisation and observation are fully engaged, ushering concealed horrors into the light. Childhood cruelty is played out behind the bushes in 'Comma'; nurses clash in 'Harley Street' over something more than professional differences; ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published September 2014 by 4th Estate
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Jeanette Loving Hilary Mantel's writing, I am a complete fan, I'd say the stories are quite different than her historical fiction. Hilary as a "voice" is much …moreLoving Hilary Mantel's writing, I am a complete fan, I'd say the stories are quite different than her historical fiction. Hilary as a "voice" is much stronger in reveal of her own personality in the stories. Good/bad? The writing is so superb, never redundant, always in the minute but not using any trite phrasing. It flows. Superb in both forms. NEVER wordy and circular either, does not kill the emotion with too many words.(less)
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Jacqueline Morris
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Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, what a nice surprise! I didn't expect her to be funny. Sly wit and careful attention, I must read more. ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
“She lives on the fumes of whiskey and the iron in the blood of her prey.”
- The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Mantel


Seriously, anytime I fantasize about writing a book I read a Hilary Mantel novel and become discouraged. Reading Mantel is like watching Michael Jordan play basketball or Federer play tennis (or back in the day watching Tiger Woods play golf). Unless you are born blind or stupid you realize that these people just don't exist on the same field or plane as the rest of humani
In those days, the doorbell didn't ring often, and if it did I would draw back into the body of the house. Only at a persistent ring would I creep over the carpets, and make my way to the front door with its spy-hole. We were big on bolts and shutters, deadlocks and mortises, safety-chains and windows that were high and barred. Through the spy-hole I saw a distraught man in a crumpled silver-grey suit: thirties, Asian. He had dropped back from the door, and was looking about him, at the closed a ...more
I read this for a mixture of rather weak reasons:
1. I was out for the day and unexpectedly finished the book I had with me, so went to a second-hand charity bookshop.
2. I didn't want to start a novel, as I had a meaty one waiting at home; short stories seemed ideal.
3. I relished the shock of my mother when I told her what I was reading.

It was a reasonably varied and diverting collection, but I won't be rushing to read another Mantel. A couple have dashes of magical realism, and there's a nod to
Julie Christine
The title alone should be enough to give a reader pause (not to mention the cover of a headless woman holding a dead rose, an indication that we haven't hopped on the Love Train). Hilary Mantel's collection of ten taut and acerbic tales wouldn't be out of place on a dark and stormy night, or at a slumber party where someone holds a flashlight under their chin, illuminating the bones and hollows of their skeleton like a specter of death.

These aren't scary stories, but they are haunting, the stuff
Manuel Antão
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Reality-behind-the-surface Literature: "The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher" by Hilary Mantel

This is my first Mantel. I’ve been postponing reading the first two volumes of the Cromwell trilogy, waiting for the third volume to come out predictably in 2016. One does not tackle a twice-awarded-writer-with-the-Man-Booker-Prize without having everything in one big bundle to make a proper assessment...Nevertheless here goes my first take
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mantel, eerily observant and wickedly funny, is a strange combination of self-conscious fear and lashing wit. Faced with her precision, I am reduced to the inarticulate: a laugh, a sigh, a whispered outbreath, G’ol.

Sometimes she uses just a word, an adjective or a verb, that brings a smile, a wince, a world to life: “At six, the steeple-headed Saleem had lost his baby fat, and his movements were tentative, as if his limbs were snappable.”

The story “How Shall I Know You?” speaks directly to my fe
Nandakishore Varma
This started out as a 4-, or perhaps even 5-star book, but dwindled down to three stars in the end.

I love Hilary Mantel's writing. I found her rather confusing in Wolf Hall, even though the power of narrative could not be denied; by the time I read Bring Up the Bodies, I had got attuned to her peculiar way of writing and was enjoying the style. Mantel uses the English language in surprising ways and her sentences sometimes move in mysterious ways, though always grammatically correct. Similes and
Hilary Mantel had written many books, among them two long historical novels which both have won the Booker Prize - Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies - making her one of the few authors to win the Booker twice, and the only woman to do so. I can't speak about them as I haven't read them (yet), but when I saw this collection I thought that it was finally time to get acquainted.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher is Hilary Mantel's second collection of short stories in total and first in eleven

The only disappointing thing I can see about this book is that the title isn't true!
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Competently written, these gloomy slice of life stories do not capture the heart but do keep you reading on and on - 3 stars

I felt a wish to be fictionalized

From the first story about an expat wife in Saudi Arabia Hilary Mantel brings us quite gloomy slices of 70’s up till contemporary life. The tales in The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher shine most when they are based on autobiographical experiences (like living in Saudi Arabia as a female or trying to get published as a woman in London) or
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, brits
I'm not sure...
I'm not sure if a collection of short stories should be quite so dissimilar.
I'm not sure if, when you give hobgoblins, zombies and vampires a role, whether you can cast them alongside an ornery tale of marital infidelity, does that matter?
I'm not sure if the brilliance of the title story only serves to point out the facile, if disturbing twist in Winter Break.
I'm not sure about a story that has the narrator see her dead father on a train, and believe it really was her dead father
Sorry to Disturb (2009) was first published with the telling subtitle 'A Memoir' in the London Review of Books. Even without this hint, it's obvious that the story is autobiographical - because the protagonist is a writer, and because (I already knew this somehow) Mantel lived in Saudi Arabia and has previously written a novel based on this period of her life (Eight Months on Ghazzah Street). The story centres on a persistent local man who knocks on the narrator's door and tries, in various ways ...more
This is a collection of 11 bleak, unsettling stories which conjure up the atmosphere of Beyond Black and which are completely unlike Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell novels. There are some interesting moments in this motley crue of stories, especially when we see glimpses of Mantel’s trademark biting tongue and sardonic comments, e.g. this comment by the 1st person narrator about Margaret Thatcher in the title (and best) story:

She sleeps four hours a night. She lives on the fumes of whisky and the iron
Diane S ☔
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivid descriptions, wonderful writing and amazing characterizations, make this one of my favorite book of short stories for this year. All are good but there is one that sticks in my mind, the ending kind of socked me in the face, had to go back and re-read to see if I read it right the first time.Then went and re-read the whole story to see if any clues were given along the way. The first time the ending kind of snuck up on me, I just love authors that can do that. Anyway, not going to tell you ...more
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm not a regular short story reader, but I'll read anything Hilary Mantel writes. She didn't disappoint me with this collection of ten short stories. Funny, creepy, sad, surprising: while some stories are better than others, all display Mantel's witty, incisive, elegant and seemingly effortless prose.

If I were a writer, I'd want to be just like Hilary Mantel.

Clif Hostetler
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Hilary Mantel is an excellent writer, and my unenthusiastic response to this collection of short stories has more to do with my frustration with trying to write a review of ten short stories. Do I write ten reviews?

Some things that many of the stories have in common, but not always, include:
— Woman as main character
— Poor health of woman
— Unresolved surprise ending

1. Sorry to Disturb is a first person narration of the experiences of a married English expatriate living in Saudi Arabia dealing wi
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
My only acquaintance with Hilary Mantel until now has been via her two wonderful, Booker-winning books, "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies." While waiting for the final volume in the Cromwell trilogy, why not dip into her un-Tudor oeuvre and see what else she can do? The ten stories in "The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher" present a good opportunity. Most were written and published over the last five years, one back in the '90s. The title story is the most recent and was embargoed before pu ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories by Hilary Mantel. All but the title story has been published before, but it is nice to have them gathered together in a single volume. As always, Mantel writes beautifully and draws readers into big themes through the domestic or every day. The book begins with “Sorry to Disturb,” which looks back to her time in Saudi Arabia, basis of her novel, “Eight Months on Ghazzah Street.” This is undoubtedly my favourite story in the collection; the strange tale of a ...more
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Someone described this book as bringing a gun to a swordfight, and there is something in that: Here's Mantel, (finally deservedly) absurdly famous and universally renowned for constructing an entire culture, world, century in those doorstopper tomes, writing little short stories about the dark,off-kilter corners of (usually) women's and girls' lives.

But don't worry, it works. These are great short stories, as perfect in miniature as Cromwell is in Tudor-supersize. I especially liked Harley Stre
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: my local library.

Ah, the slender volume of literary short stories! Such things have become a rarity in traditional publishing, but when the author is a double Man Booker winner there’s justification for padding them out with plenty of white space and title pages, choosing the most provocative title for the volume and putting a heavy advertising budget behind it. From the back matter I can see they were first published in journals and/or “best of” short story collections. I
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Having loved one of Ms Mantel's former book, I have to say this group of short stories were disappointing. While touching on all sorts of human frailties, they left me feeling a sense of one upmanship in their presentation. Suffice to say as well, that the manner of the printing of this book made what a two hundred page rendition, a longer than necessary print. In other words I felt as if this was a bit of a rip off for those who purchase this book because of the acclaim the author has received ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2014
An offbeat collection of short stories, many darkly humorous. The main thing here is less the stories (although I enjoyed all of them except “Terminus”) - it’s the glorious writing and her sly, acerbic wit.

Don’t miss this if you enjoy quirky and eccentric short stories and superlative writing.
Cynthia Dunn
Maybe I just don't like short stories but for the most part these did nothing for me. ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always loved short stories since I first read Frank O’ Connor at age 8. Mantel’s short Stories are magnificent.

The book’s title greatly appealed to me, as I have always despised Margaret Thatcher and what she stood for. I remember chuckling gleefully when the head of her statue in England was decapitated by a disaffected citizen .

The stories vary markedly in theme and setting. Sorry to Disturb, for example, is set in Saudi Arabia. What they have in common is that they are all outstanding
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a delight to read, mood pieces, dark entertaining. Some stories were 4 star, some 3. But in every one the use of language sublime. She has a way of saying a state or a feeling that is nearly unique, IMHO. No trite words or cliché phrasing. Very English and yet understandable to others outside of her culture and place, oh YES. But in several places she seems to get lost in that very act of a direct metaphor, IMHO. Sometimes I don't understand her at all, but I would think it is possible ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2015
A solidly unsentimental collection full of insight and dark humour. I was particularly impressed by the new story added for this paperback edition, The School of English, which is a devastating inditement of the injustices of London society from the perspective of a downtrodden and defenceless Filipina maidservant. That this is placed immediately before the title story adds weight to Mantel's less than complementary views on the Thatcher legacy. Not a long book, and very different to the histori ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
As a devotee of Mantel’s Cromwell novels, I was disappointed to find these stories utterly unremarkable and uninteresting. Only the one about a girl with an eating disorder caused the slightest of visceral flutters.
Book Riot Community
I’m not always one for a short story collection, but this was not a title my bleeding liberal heart could resist picking up. I loved Wolf Hall, so I knew I would enjoy the writing in Mantel’s collection if nothing else. I didn’t except the heart-rending honesty of the domestic portraits, from a woman struggling with undiagnosed endometriosis to a man struggling with his moment of infidelity. The breezily-constructed stories are deceptive: quick and deliberate, easily consumed but difficult to fo ...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 Wolf Hall 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 Exper ...more

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