Learning to Talk
by Hilary Mantel
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Pub Date 21 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 22 Jul 2022
Henry Holt & Company, Henry Holt and Co.
A dazzling collection of short stories from the two-time winner of the Booker Prize and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Wolf Hall trilogy.
In the wake of Hilary Mantel’s brilliant conclusion to her award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy, Learning to Talk is a collection of loosely autobiographical stories that locates the transforming moments of a haunted childhood.
Absorbing and evocative, these drawn-from-life stories begin in the 1950s in an insular northern village “scoured by bitter winds and rough gossip tongues.” For the young narrator, the only way to survive is to get up, get on, get out. In “King Billy Is a Gentleman,” the child must come to terms with the loss of a father and the puzzle of a fading Irish heritage. “Curved Is the Line of Beauty" is a story of friendship, faith and a near-disaster in a scrap-yard. The title story sees our narrator ironing out her northern vowels with the help of an ex-actress with one lung and a Manchester accent. In “Third Floor Rising," she watches, amazed, as her mother carves out a stylish new identity.
With a deceptively light touch, Mantel illuminates the poignant experiences of childhood that leave each of us forever changed.
“A book of her short stories is like a little sweet treat...Mantel’s narrators never tell everything they know, and that’s why they’re worth listening to, carefully.” —USA Today
“Her short stories always recognize other potential realities...Even the most straightforward of Mantel’s tales retain a faintly otherworldly air.” —The Washington Post
Praise for Books by Hilary Mantel
“Mantel’s stories have their own special tang and quidditas.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Mantel’s writing is cinematically exquisite...you can’t help but get sucked in.”
—The Chicago Tribune
“A book of her short stories is like a little sweet treat...Mantel’s narrators never tell everything they know, and that’s why they’re worth listening to, carefully.”
“Her short stories always recognize other potential realities...Even the most straightforward of Mantel’s tales retain a faintly otherworldly air.”
—The Washington Post
“Taken together, [Mantel’s] Cromwell novels are, for my money, the greatest English novels of this century.”
—The Observer (London)
“Majestic and often breathtakingly poetic…the writing comes as close to poetry as prose ever may.”
—Simon Schama, The Financial Times
“She is our literary Michelangelo.”
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