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Beyond Black

Written by: Hilary Mantel
Narrated by: Anna Bentinck
Length: 17 hrs and 14 mins
Price: CDN$ 37.38
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Publisher's Summary

Alison Hart, a medium by trade, tours the dormitory towns of London's orbital ring road with her flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, passing on messages from beloved dead ancestors. But behind her plump, smiling persona hides a desperate woman: she knows the terrors the next life holds but must conceal them from her wide-eyed clients. At the same time she is plagued by spirits from her own past, who infiltrate her body and home, becoming stronger and nastier the more she resists....

©2005 Hilary Mantel (P)2006 Isis Publishing Ltd

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  • Sue C
  • 2018-11-15

Unusual,unlikely unforgettable

This is the first Mantel book I have read. I do not read new fiction until after the wave of enthusiasm from the reviewers has died down,and a book is holding its own.This was particularly true following the two years in succession when Mantel won the Booker Prize.
Beyond Black ,an earlier book, presents a biography of Alison a morbidly obese, kind woman with a rotten history of childhood who has the unlikely ‘profession’ as a medium in the outer suburbs of London . Alison is accompanied by spirits from her past, including one who seems to be her side kick who handles the finances.

Against this unlikely and haunting background ,we follow the life of this equally unlikely heroine following a tale which invokes another unlikely combination of unbearable terror ,sympathy and empathy. Even more unlikely, Alison’s daily life invokes laughter of the ‘out loud’ variety. We laugh with Alison not at her: This gives the reader time to draw breath. We laugh with humor not ridicule.
The end of the book arrives without a flourish and with an appropriate conclusion.

I loved this book and was irritated when I realized that I really had to get some sleep. I hope I have conveyed the essence of the book. I did not want to be guilty of ‘Spoiler Alerts’. Suffice it to say that as Woolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are not available to Audible listeners in Canada I bought two six disc C.D.s, copied them and found out how to transfer them to my iPad.

Anna Bentinck ,the perfect reader,always catches the exact tone and voice a book deserves. Her voice itself keeps one in the book,one's mind never wanders. It is true that if she read aloud the instructions for a device that came with 'Some Assembly Required'.we would still be enthralled by her voice.We might also complete the assembly.