Susanne Dunlap

Ode to Hilary Mantel

In Books I have read, Historical Fiction, Writing Craft on October 5, 2010 at 8:42 am

She sits before the blank screen, plagued with memories of all the other times. How much to say? How much to leave out?

Like catching glimpses through a door more often closed than open, we witness human failings. Not enough to make the whole picture all at once, but to tease us, to force patience, keeping the pages turning when there is no guarantee of a reward.

And then, like a rich carpet suddenly unrolled at a bazaar, a description, splashed across the page. Only a sentence or two, but it is enough to make us hunger for more.

Of course, the assumption that we know enough of the story to take it like this. Anne’s petulant ambition. Henry’s insatiability. The meaning of red. The cold physicality of persuasion. More’s pious cruelty. Against this, the background, thoughts, dreams, disappointments, loves, hates, generosity of a man we never knew.

No apologies. No wasted explanations. Shortcuts that leave us breathless and bring uncanny realism in their wake. A dreamscape more than history, moving from place to place and time to time without boots on.

Daring the reader.

Richness hangs in the spaces between words, to be savored, slowly.

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  1. This is rich and inspired praise indeed: makes one desire to seek the font.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Gulland and Susanne Dunlap, Susanne Dunlap. Susanne Dunlap said: Ode to Hilary Mantel: http://wp.me/pXMXc-3I […]

  3. “The meaning of red,” that’s a great phrase in the context of the book. I was really struck by the way that reminders of Wolsey cropped up after his death in the clothes worn by the other characters.

  4. I was truly gobsmacked by Wolf Hall. Her writing is brilliant!

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