Browse all of the exceptional memoirs that made our list.
Hilary Mantel's Giving Up the Ghost is one of the most unusual memoirs I've ever read. In addition to being an extraordinary writer (she is the first woman to have been awarded the Booker Prize twice), she has had an extraordinary life, strewn with loss, pain, and the supernatural. Mantel moved to Botswana and Saudi Arabia with her husband, whom she divorced, then later remarried. She suffered much of her life with an extremely painful form of endometriosis, which was misdiagnosed as psychosis at one point, and the treatment caused her weight and body to transform dramatically. And since she was a child, she's been drawn to and plagued by ghosts (including those of her stepfather and a daughter she never had). But what really makes this (admittedly sometimes bleak) memoir remarkable is Mantel's voice — her wry, pitch-black humor and ferocious intelligence shine from every page. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In postwar rural England, Hilary Mantel grew up convinced that the most improbable of accomplishments, including "chivalry, horsemanship, and swordplay," were within her grasp. Once married, however, she acquired a persistent pain that led to destructive drugs and patronizing psychiatry, ending in an ineffective but irrevocable surgery. There would be no children; in herself she found instead one novel, and then another.
"Mantel's talents are stronger than her misfortunes...[this book comes] from the mind of a fine author, whose body has imposed its own terrible penances."--The Washington Post
"Blazing insights [and] poetic discourses that rattle the soul...Mantel doesn't simply hit close to home, she knocks at our closets and opens our doors."--The Boston Globe
"The matter is bitter, but Mantel's angular wit is as unquenchable as her anger; the reading experience is reliably exhilarating because of the sheer excellence of the writing."--New York Times Book Review
"Dazzlingly written...a highly unorthodox account of what is essentially unsayable about the inward uncharted life."--Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
New York Times bestselling author Hilary Mantel, two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize, is one of the world's most accomplished and acclaimed fiction writers. Giving Up the Ghost, is her dazzling memoir of a career blighted by physical pain in which her singular imagination supplied compensation for the life her body was denied.
Selected by the New York Times as one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years
"The story of my own childhood is a complicated sentence that I am always trying to finish, to finish and put behind me."
In postwar rural England, Hilary Mantel grew up convinced that the most extraordinary feats were within her grasp. But at nineteen, she became ill. Through years of misdiagnosis, she suffered patronizing psychiatric treatment and destructive surgery that left her without hope of children.
Beset by pain and sadness, she decided to "write herself into being"--one novel after another. This wry and visceral memoir will certainly bring new converts to Mantel's dark genius.
"Mesmerizing."--The New York Times
About the Author
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 Experiment in Love, The Giant, O'Brien, Fludd, Beyond Black, Every Day Is Mother's Day, and Vacant Possession. She has also written a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. Mantel was the winner of the Hawthornden Prize, and her reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. She lives in England with her husband.