THE FINAL BOOK FROM ONE OF OUR GREATEST WRITERS
In addition to her celebrated career as a novelist, Hilary Mantel contributed for years to newspapers and journals, unspooling stories from her own life and illuminating the world as she found it. “Ink is a generative fluid,” she explains. “If you don’t mean your words to breed consequences, don’t write at all.” A Memoir of My Former Self collects the finest of this writing over four decades.
Her subjects are wide-ranging, sharply observed, and beautifully rendered. She discusses nationalism and her own sense of belonging; our dream life popping into our conscious life; the mythic legacy of Princess Diana; the many themes that feed into her novels—revolutionary France, psychics, Tudor England; and other novelists, from Jane Austen to V.S. Naipaul. She writes about her father and the man who replaced him; she writes fiercely and heartbreakingly about the battles with her health that she endured as a young woman, and the stifling years she found herself living in Saudi Arabia. Here, too, is her legendary essay “Royal Bodies,” on our endless fascination with the current royal family.
From her unusual childhood to her all-consuming interest in Thomas Cromwell that grew into the Wolf Hall trilogy, A Memoir of My Former Self reveals the shape of Hilary Mantel’s life in her own luminous words, through “messages from people I used to be.” Filled with her singular wit and wisdom, it is essential reading from one of our greatest writers.
“A smart, deft, meticulous, thoughtful writer, with such a grasp of the dark and spidery corners of human nature.”
“Mantel was a queen of literature. . . . Her reign was long, varied, and uncontested.”
“One of the very greatest of our writers; poetic and profound prose with an incomparable feel for the texture of history.”
“Mantel bristled with intelligence, looked at everything, saw everything. . . . With the uneasy energy of her early life, [she] made rigorous and unsettling work about history, the body, and the unknowable.”
"The works collected in A Memoir of My Former Self are sharp and shapely, models of economy and density of thought... If you are a Mantel completist or if you have never heard of her, this book is an utter delight."
"Spanning four decades, and comprising work that originally appeared in various outlets, this bravura collection of articles, essays, reviews and talks showcases the inquiring mind, fierce intelligence and shrewd way with words of a dexterous—and indeed, ambidextrous—prose stylist."
—The Washington Post