Seriously impressed by Hilary Mantel!
Not just because she’s a great writer – winning the Booker twice in a row proves that – but because she’s an historical novelist!
At long last this puts historical fiction in the ‘serious’ bracket, whereas before I’ve always felt it was looked down on as not being ‘contemporary’ or ‘pushing the boundaries’.
Haven’t yet read BRINGING UP THE BODIES, but watched an interview yesterday with Channel 4’s Krishna Guru-Murthy and just wanted to hug this wonderful woman for being so modest and so passionate about what she does. Her words about why she writes about history, and how she approaches it, really spoke to me.
She has written contemporary fiction, but feels more comfortable with history because she can relate to it; and, without being mystical about it, is able to ‘put herself back in time’. That’s just how I feel – I can ‘be there’ in ways that I’ve found difficult while writing the contemporary sections of my novels. Can’t explain it – nor could she – it just happens.
But what spoke to me most of all, was when Hilary Mantel talked about her two Booker prize-winners, and the facts relating to that extraordinary figure, Thomas Cromwell. For historians, the facts are always the facts, but – as she made clear – they can be interpreted in different ways. Rather like witness statements in a court case. Do you approve or condemn? It’s a matter of opinion. But the novelist is able to present a case for WHY and HOW these events came about. As she made clear, and said so eloquently, in every case there are ‘versions behind versions, behind versions’ of the truth…