Hilary Mantel, twice winner of the Man Booker Prize, released a collection of short stories – titled The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and other stories – in 2014 and I have finally finished the compilation.
This collection peruses a host of difficult topics; misogyny, culture shock, adultery, alternate realities and much more. While the subject matter is different across each story there are similarities that occur throughout the collection; Mantel has a great eye for the minutiae of suburban life, the dreck of urban reality and even the bleak but often unsettling sunshine of the very English countryside.
There is no doubt Mantel is a master storyteller – every word moves her story forward and every word she uses is chosen and serves a purpose, sometimes, even more than one. I wouldn’t say her writing is ‘wordy’ because, well it isn’t, every word is valuable, Her writing is taut, controlled and acerbic.
The Plot can at times be secondary to the dialogue, and sometimes, even to the environment in which the action is taking place but when this happens it is all in the name of advancing the story, it is done with a greater purpose in mind. The denouement in most of the collection appears a little forced which can come across as unsatisfying but on a second read is actually completely genius.
Overall I was underwhelmed with Mantel’s collection, I thought she could’ve made more of a number of the stories. While the titular story was provocative, profound, funny and by far the best of the lot the rest were still above par. I went into this the first time round with very high expectations and was disappointed but on that second reading, I loved every word.