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An Experiment in Love

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,518 Ratings  ·  192 Reviews
An alternate cover for this isbn can be found here.

Following A Change in Climate, An Experiment in Love is a coming-of-age tale set in Seventies London. It is London, 1970. Carmel McBain, in her first term at university, has cut free of her childhood roots in the north. Among the gossiping, flirtatious girls of Tonbridge Hall, she begins her experiments in life and love. B
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Paperback, 250 pages
Published 1995 by Harper Perennial
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Anastasia Hobbet
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilary Mantel never wastes a word, and it's only at the end of this brief book (as opposed to her Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, at 500-plus pages, anyway)that you realize how expertly she has woven every line and observation. She excels, in all her books, at the portrayal of not-so-likable people, and keeping the reader interested in them even as they're repelled. She said recently, when asked what advice she'd give to aspiring writers: "Drop the charm. Eat meat, drink blood." She means it.
Judy
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who liked Wolf Hall

I was so enchanted by Wolf Hall that I resolved to read Hilary Mantel's other novels. I had not heard of her before Wolf Hall won the Booker Prize and I don't think she was very well-known in the United States previously, but is highly respected in England. She has published ten novels, An Experiment in Love being her seventh.

It is a sad, sad tale, very English and it reminded me of Anne Enright's The Gathering. Somehow, Mantel's writing just drags you into the hearts of her characters and kee
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Dan
Oct 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fine novel for me. The writing and the story telling are so bright and fast-moving I didn't want to put it down.

The tale follows Carmel from her girlhood through a demanding Catholic school for 11-18-years olds, and into her college times in London. There is plenty of flavoring in this this Irish-Catholic background, and in the sense of poverty of pocket book and ideas of some of the characters, in the class issues and and in the sense of the times and places that are vastly differen
...more
Jeanette
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review could be 20 paragraphs long, that's how personal a connection this novel had for me in reaction. More than just enjoyable, at least 1/2 was outright LOL, literally. The descriptive mastery! Not an easy read, as there are 4 comparative context metaphors or some kind of nuance allusion or allegory to a paragraph, but what an effect! Also despite being in another country, the absolutely identical cultural context issues to the time we experienced are just incredible. Like the paper fold ...more
Jon
Sep 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing in this short book captured and held me, even though the plot had little intrinsic interest for me. It's the experience of a working-class Catholic girl from the north of England being pushed into academic success by her ambitious mother in the late 1960s to 1970. It's a somber and sad first-person story, even though the narrator has reached, by the time of the writing, some form of happiness, integrity, and maturity. There are flashes everywhere of early feminism, social satire, Cat ...more
Anna
Jul 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
‘An Experiment in Love’ is a novel that I expected to connect with more than in fact I did. It follows a girl called Carmel as she gets into a selective high school, has to have a whole fancy uniform that seems incredibly expensive, does well at school, goes off to university, and negotiates the novel freedom of living with a group of other young women for the first time. Although the narrative is set in the 1970s, I had all the aforementioned experiences myself in the 90s and 00s. Carmel is an ...more
Sandra Lawson
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Experiment in Love is Carmel's story of her childhood somewhere near Manchester. She is educated at Catholic schools, earns a scholarship as a passport out of her working class background, and fetches up at university in London. Here she makes new friends from different classes and parts of the country, but fails to sever her ties with her school friends, who have joined her at the same hall of residence.

Carmel reflects back on her life, prompted by a newspaper article about a friend and form
...more
Kat
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is often compared to Muriel Spark's The Girls of Slender Means, including by the characters in the book itself!!! But, while there are structural and thematic similarities: a narrator form "the now" recalls her younger self living in a residence hall for young women, a tragedy that takes the life of one of said women, etc., I find Mantel's book to be much better. It is less fragmented in its points of view (Carmel is the sole narrator), Carmel has a back story that is much more develop ...more
Sub_zero
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2016
Hilary Mantel imprime en Experimento de amor su particular sello a las novelas de iniciación. En esta obra, la aparición en prensa de una antigua compañera de estudios provoca en la protagonista una especie de regresión a sus años de infancia y adolescencia que no solo pinta un perfecto retrato de las cuitas e inquietudes propias de la juventud, sino que realiza una magnífica composición social, política e ideológica de Inglaterra en la década de los 60. Y es en este escenario, en el que Mantel ...more
Sarah
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies were so riveting, so beautifully crafted -- I missed them terribly when I finished them. To fill the void, I decided to embark on an all-Mantel/all-the-time summer. I liked Experiment in Love, but it certainly was not IMHO of the same caliber as the previously mentioned historical novels. Had I read it without the others as touchstones, I think I would have given this book a higher rating. The writing is wonderful, but the story never really engaged me. ...more
Jean Carlton
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I first heard of Hilary Mantel in regards to her more recent awards for Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, neither of which I have read at this point.
I found this book at a sale and thought I'd get a taste of her writing. I do like British authors in general and stories set there - and I found her to be an excellent writer. (which seems to be the most critical factor in my enjoying a book.) When you add the ability to create intriguing characters and a good storyline to fine prose, you have a wi
...more
Mary Kay
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. The restrictive school setting, brief poignant character sketches, and conclusion all remind me more than a little of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The distance the narrator is able to maintain between herself and her childhood friend/acquaintance/enemy, Karina, is remarkable, and we don't see until the ending exactly why this distance is so necessary, because the narrator can't bring herself to spell it out. Karina's streak of malevolence is more than a little destructive. Hi ...more
Frij
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
alfa yayınları'ndan "bir aşk deneyi" adı ile çıkmış.
türkçeye çevrilmiş çoğu kitabın kaderi olduğu gibi belki kötü çeviriyle, kesinlikle berbat redaksiyonla, iyi yazıldığı belli bir kitap okumuş oldum.
mantel kadın diliyle yazılmış romanlar okumak isteyen biri için iyi bir tercih olacağa benziyor. 5 değil 4 yıldızın nedeni kitabın yeterince detaylandırılmamış olması. insan daha fazlasını isteyerek son sayfayı kapatıyor.
Eleanor
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was gripped by this book and could hardly bear to put it down. The characters are so real (and clearly there is an element of autobiography in the central narrator). I don't want to put in any spoilers but suffice to say you get the feeling that it isn't going to end happily, and it doesn't. Hilary Mantel is a powerful writer and I found this book very satisfying indeed.
Redkitsune
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The redaction of the story is excellent, but overall it is a sad story and that's the reason why I rate it 3 stars (for me, an "ok book").
Rachel Stevenson
This book is highly autobiographical, and I've read most of Mantel's autobiography, so there was a hint of deja vu throughout this story: the childhood in the northern mill town (here transposed from Derbyshire to Lancashire), the convent school, the boyfriend (turned husband) and the escape to University and London. I wondered why retread ground that Margaret Drabble and Lynne Reid Banks had already covered, of 1960s girls (although Mantel references Edna O'Brien and Muriel Spark) at or leaving ...more
Christy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ed
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This haunting book brought to mind Peter Ackroyd's note on "The eternal present of the past."
Curiously, its tragic ending echoed that of one of my favorite books, "The Girls of Slender Means", by Muriel Spark. Similarly, as well, both address the moral issues arising from the tragedies.
Certainly, Experiment is very different from both "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" in tone, mood and period.
Recommended very highly.
Here is the NY Times review by Margaret Atwood:
http://www.nytimes.com/boo
...more
Ben
Jan 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, love
Great fan of Hilary Mantel. But this is the novel she wrote before she tuned all her instruments. A coming of age story set in Lancashire and London about a girl set the task of overcoming her pinched and draconian background. Should be okay but it's not, not at all. In fact it's bloody boring. The comedy falls flat. The prose is overblown and heavy handed and the characters are just plain dull. This was a chore to read.
Nicole
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was good enough that I am almost considering setting aside my deep distrust of the whole project of historical fiction and reading one of those big books of hers that everybody is always reading.

Almost.
Megan
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
During my childhood every adult I knew, at some point, would reminisce about the 50's and 60's. I didn't realize how much I liked that until I read this novel. It is very different from her Cromwell books, except that she doesn't ever play her full hand until the end.
Cristina
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca
Al principio tenia la sensación que llevaba la mitad del libro y todo era una gran introducción q quizás no me llevaría a ninguna parte. Pero he seguido y me daba cuenta que me enganchaba aunque pensara que no explicara gran cosa pero luego te das cuenta que si es una buena historia.
Ari
IQ "When men decided women could be educated-this is what I think-they educated them on the male plan; they put them into schools with mottoes and school songs and muddy team games, they made them wear collars and ties. It was a way to concede the right to learning, yet remain safe; the products of the system would always be inferior to the original model. Women were forced to imitate men, and bound not to succeed at it" (164).

This quote resonated with me because it reminded me of a reading we h
...more
spherical.cat
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilary Mantel's portrayal of the highly-charged interactions among young women contains traces of Tudor politics: powerplay, backstabbing and a very thin line between friends and enemies. The novel charts the coming-of-age of Carmel McBain, who many years later is sifting through her memory. Carmel leaves a working-class home, a convent education, and a domineering mother for college, just as England enters the Thatcher era. Accompanying her is Karina, a longtime schoolmate who has been selected ...more
Dana
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you loved Elena Ferrante's suite (My Brilliant Friend, etc) you will appreciate Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel's take on friendship in this exquisite novel set in Britain.
Lesley
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Hilary Mantel's books- they are dark and quirky, and this one is no exception. It isn't really about very much, the narrator, Carmel is settling into University, along with two of her schoolfriends, and this is juxtaposed with memories of how the girls met and their lives at Primary and Secondary school. Yup, there is a great deal of detail about that. We are told by Carmel straight away that Karina is strange, Karina is the outsider. Carmel was forced to be her friend by her mothe ...more
Fiona
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You're only young once, they say, but doesn't it go on for a long time? More years than you can bear."

What was it like, being a female student in 1970?

Carmel, Karina and Julia are all at university in London together. They live in a Halls of Residence. None of them are very nice people. But I loved this book, loved the descriptions of the small Lancashire town they come from, of London, of hunger, of poverty, of convent education. It reminded me of The Bell Jar.

In chapter seven, Mantel writes
...more
Neanderthal
Lynnett said to me, 'How very short your hair is! But it shows off your beautiful eyes.'
I could see that Julianne had also fallen in love. I think women carry this faculty into later life: the faculty for love, I mean. Men will never understand it till they stop confusing love with sex, which will be never. Even today, there are ten or twenty women I love: for a turn of phrase or wrist, for a bruised-looking ankle where the veins have blossomed out, for a squeeze of the hand or for a voice on
...more
Erica
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after reading the Booker prize behemouth "Wolf Hall," which I loved. This is set predominately in 1960s London at a girls college. It's wonderful and complicated and nuanced and slow (like "Wolf Hall," "An Experiment in Love" took me more time to read than its pages fully accounted for). It's a coming of age novel, but not a trite one. There are very dark angles that Mantel utilizes but never fully shines her light on. Which leaves the reader wondering "Was that fucked up? Or RE ...more
Katherine Hebert
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spot-on writing about young women in college in the 60s, away from home for the first time , pushed by parents who scrimped and saved so they could go to school and land a better life---somewhere between marriage and being the prime minister of England. Young women who have to figure out on their own how to live with birth control, sexual freedom, pregnancy, religion, anorexia, the inability to connect with parents, friendships, hatred, violence, and financial issues including starvation when th ...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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“You're only young once, they say, but doesn't it go on for a long time? More years than you can bear.” 1054 likes
“So many years of preparation, for what was called adult life: was it for this?” 21 likes
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