Mantel Pieces: Royal Bodies and Other Writing from the London Review of Books is a publishing gem: a treasure trove of book reviews, essays, memoirs and, of course, that famous lecture “Royal Bodies”.
In 1987, when Hilary Mantel was first published in the London Review of Books, she wrote to the editor, Karl Miller, ‘I have no critical training whatsoever, so I am forced to be more brisk and breezy than scholarly.’
Brisk and breezy? Or penetrating, illuminating and often brilliantly funny as she explores books, authors and subjects as diverse as Robespierre, John Osborne’s Memoirs, Marie Antoinette, pop icon Madonna, bookcase shopping in Jeddah and Britain’s last witch, as well as Jane Boleyn, Charles Brandon, Christopher Marlowe and Margaret Pole, which – as best-selling author of the Wolf Hall trilogy – display her astonishing insight into the Tudor mind.
As biographer Frances Wilson concluded in her review of Mantel Pieces for the Telegraph:
It is only when her essays are laid out like this that we can see the inside of Mantel’s huge head, bulging with knowledge and a million connections.
A glorious literary adventure into the mind of one of our best-loved authors!
Hardback, HarperCollins, £16.99
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