Flower, the time has come!
The votes are counted and the announcement has been made. ~~~drum roll~~~~ The winner of this years Man Booker Prize, a great humanitarian and one heck of a great gal~~~ta da~~ Hilary Mantel!!!!
I could not be more pleased. I have deep unrequited love for Hilary. She is a brilliant writer, "Wolf Hall" could not be a better book and I discovered her. Well, I like to think I discovered her. I started reading her when "Flood" (still one of my favorite novels) came out in 1989 and I was able to hand sell tons of it in my bookstore. This of course lead to bringing in her backlist and much excitement whenever a new novel of her's appeared. I am sure that her publisher had no other stores that were ordering and reordering her books in carton quantities.
The lovely thing about prizes is that they bring new readers to authors all across the globe. They have a much further reach than my Recommends Cards ever will. Not that Hilary's only audience has been in my small universe. No, she has been a big seller in England for years. Now England and I can sit back, relax and watch readers flock to my girl Hilary. And her U.S. publisher, who has never promoted her, will congratulate themselves on having been behind her for years.
I had the good luck, great pleasure and honor to meet Hilary Mantel 4 years ago. She was speaking in London and a dear friend of mine, S, who lives over there sent me a plane ticket to come hear her. Her talk was as wonderful as her writings. After the lecture was over S took me to a wine and cheese chat to actually meet Hilary! I was so deliriously happy and so nervous. It was an unforgettable moment for me. She talked to me me while I babbled for about 5 minutes. What a treasured memory. Thanks again S!
You will not be disappointed no matter what book you pick to try first. All of her novels, historical and contemporary, deal with the isolation of the individual in some way. Hilary writes with an eye for detail and a compassion for her characters that sets her apart from other contemporary novelists. She has the amazing ability to let you discover for yourself the inner lives of her characters.
My favorites in no particular order:
Flood. A mysterious stranger brings odd choices to a Irish Catholic neighborhood. There is a scene in there where the spinster housekeeper is making wedding bands for her self out of snack food wrappers that has never left me.
A Place of Greater Safety. The best novel EVER about the French Revolution. It follows Danton, Robespierre, Desmoulins and their families from childhood through the early days of the revolution
An Experiment in Love. Hilary takes the hairy old plot of Sally, Irene and Mary and makes a terrific novel out of it. It's women's lives thwarted, successful, happy and unhappy in 1970's and 80's London.
Giving Up The Ghost. A fascinating and angering memoir of her early years. You aren't going to read trauma after trauma but rather a study of a dreams verses reality that is very moving.
Beyond Black. Popular medium Alison Hart travels from show to show with her dead friends always on the verge of somehow becoming one of them. The stealthy creepiness of Alison's life and life experiences are written about with a subtlety that will not cease to impress you.
Wolf Hall. Man Booker Winner!!!