Beyond Black

by Hilary Mantel | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0007157762 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingHillsroadmgrwing of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on 6/5/2006
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingHillsroadmgrwing from Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Monday, June 05, 2006
One for the launch of the new OBCZ at the Cambridge Coffee Company on Hills Road, Cambridge UK

Released 13 yrs ago (6/6/2006 UTC) at Cambridge Coffee Company, OBCZ in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom

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Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 07, 2006
To christen the newest OBCZ I have left a few books and picked one up. Good luck with your shelf :)

This looks interesting, from the blurb;

'A masterpiece of wit'

'[Beyond Black] is chilling, creepy and endlessly inventive'

Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 28, 2006
(27/06) Finished - review to follow

Not an unreserved hit for me, although I will look out for more books by Mantel. Thank you Ionamac/Hillsroadmgr for the opportunity to read this.

Alison (Cheetham) is a spiritualist, clairvoyant & psychic although she doesn’t style herself as an ‘end of the pier’ fortune-teller; hers is more of a calling, an imperative, to mediate messages from the ‘passed’ to the living. She is hampered along the way by her obnoxious spirit guide Morris and the ‘Fiends’, a gang of her Mother’s cronies and clients from her tragic childhood. This is a new idea for me, that spirit guides can be known to the medium, and can be capricious & mischievous...so we don’t all become serene higher beings on the next plain; I suppose there can only be so many native American chiefs & Tibetan monks in the afterlife!?

I think the book title and cover illustration need some explanation. The...er...large lady vacuuming is Alison, sucking up other peoples illnesses, torsions and strains, which is enough to make her physically sick, and a binge-eating insomniac.

And ‘Beyond Black’; mediums don’t like to mention death - the‘d’ word - so they talk in vague terms about passing and, "the place beyond black".

I really enjoyed the book but found the long middle section a bit of a drag – some better editing was needed I think? And, Collette, Alison’s partner/manager; despite some funny interplay and the interesting co-dependency between the 2 women, I found her cynicism made her unlikeable, as much as Alison’s vulnerability and weaknesses made her likeable, but i’m a bit of a sucker for pathos! We do see a glimpse of a softer Collette, but have to wait until p439, in response to a compliment from her useless estranged husband, "She looked at him and her heart was touched; where her heart would be."

It was very clever the way that Alison’s back story came through gradually, as she uncovered her own memories and pieced together clues from the other side – a bit like a psychic detective story. However, I would be hard-pushed to call this ‘black humour’, its all a little too unpleasant and raw to be even gallows humour, or maybe I’m being too sensitive?

This book has a ‘post script’ with background notes and an interview with the author. She explains her belief system, which I broadly agree with; ‘I am not a believer or an unbeliever’, and although she feels that literature/fiction can ‘expand our sympathies’, she finds the public displays of mediumship and the belief that our ancestors are watching over us to be, ‘threatening, unlikely, and slightly repulsive’.

My little desk dictionary defines clairvoyance as, ‘...the power of seeing in the mind events etc. that are in the future or out of sight’. To paraphrase St.Augustine (I think!), that faith is to believe without seeing. Well, I believe in Alison and her personal demons, and I don’t disbelieve in Morris, ‘Keef’ Capstick, Mr Aitkenside, Pikey Pete etc. ;)

Last, and probably least, Mantell has introduced me to a great new phrase, to explain the fiddly pointless pieces of architectural design (particularly on sub-urban executive-style housing), and equally the range of computer add-ons and gadgets, she describes as ‘gob-ons’.

Journal Entry 5 by Pookledo from Loughborough, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Sunday, July 02, 2006
Given to me by BookGroupMan at the Unconvention. I read "Fludd" by Mantel many years ago and hope I enjoy this book as much as I that one.

Journal Entry 6 by Pookledo from Loughborough, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I've got as far as page 168 and although I've liked what i have read I'm afraid I'm going to have to give up. I've had horrible nightmares since reading this book which are based around the attack scenes and I want them to stop.

I'm such a wimp! :o(

Journal Entry 7 by Pookledo at - By Hand in Given to a friend, Friend -- Controlled Releases on Sunday, September 30, 2007

Released 12 yrs ago (9/30/2007 UTC) at - By Hand in Given to a friend, Friend -- Controlled Releases

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Passing on to my Mum as I think she'll like it.

Journal Entry 8 by quackers326 from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Monday, November 26, 2007
Passed on to me by my daughter (Pookledo) who found it a bit scary, and couldn't read all of it. I managed to read it all,but I like a challenge. Very different book to what I usually read, but if you like mediums and after life, this is the book for you.

Journal Entry 9 by quackers326 from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Monday, April 21, 2008
Pookledos dad has taken this book to work. NCT canteen ,West Bridgford, Nottingham. I hope his bus driver mates will find time to read it.

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