Read Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel Online


Lock your doors, barricade your windows: Muriel Axon is back in town. It's been ten years since she was locked away for killing her mad old mother. Now she wants to lay Mother's ghost to rest and find her missing child. But above all, she wants revenge. Her former social worker and her old neighbours have made new lives, but Muriel, with her talent for disguise, will infilLock your doors, barricade your windows: Muriel Axon is back in town. It's been ten years since she was locked away for killing her mad old mother. Now she wants to lay Mother's ghost to rest and find her missing child. But above all, she wants revenge. Her former social worker and her old neighbours have made new lives, but Muriel, with her talent for disguise, will infiltrate their homes and exploit their talents for self-destruction, until at last all her enemies are brought together for a gruesome finale. Hilary Mantel's razor-sharp wit animates every page. This malevolent black comedy has as many twists and turns as a well-plotted thriller....

Title : Vacant Possession
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780805062717
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 242 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Vacant Possession Reviews

  • Jay Daze
    2019-05-29 11:46

    A Jacobean changeling revenge play, a ghost haunted world, an institutionalized world where Brits are dehumanized and alienated all in the effort to 'care' for them in way that is deeply uncaring. Muriel Axon is the monstrously wonderful axle around which this story of the destruction of a family rotates. She toys with the other characters in a dreaming, musing, vengeful way.A disturbing book, which clings to my mind like some vicious animal, raking my brain with its claws. It doesn't even let the screams tail off, but cuts off mid-way -- so they never end.

  • Sheryl
    2019-05-29 13:38

    Muriel Axon is released from a mental institution, and plots revenge upon her social worker and neighbors who she feels have wronged her. A very black comedy of errors, it's a well written book, but not an enjoyable book. The problem is, every character in it is such a miserable sod, I couldn't work up the least bit of sympathy for any of them. It's not a good sign when you hope all the characters in a book commit mass suicide.

  • MaggyGray
    2019-06-25 15:52

    Hmmm, ein etwas seltsames Buch - erst am Schluss habe ich erfahren, dass es da wohl einen Vorgängerband gibt.Die Sprache von Mantel ist eigentümlich lebhaft und hat viele Bilder in meinem Kopf entstehen lassen, aber alles in allem war mir die Geschichte einfach ein bisschen zu oberflächlich und nichtssagend.

  • Ana
    2019-06-02 16:52

    Hilary Mantel always dazzles me, to the point that I firmly believe her to be the greatest English language writer alive. Just before this novel I had read Every Day is Mother's Day ad it was unbelievably good. Then I started Vacant Possession, unaware that the story continued here. Oh, heavens, I could not leave the book on the table until I finished it!I'm just dying to read The Mirror and the Light, i.e. the last book of the trilogy that started with Wolf Hall. Every person who aspires to write should learn how to do it by reading Mantel's novels.

  • Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
    2019-06-24 18:46

    This sequel to Every Day Is Mother's Day is even bleaker than the 1st book! What is it that compels me to read about characters I feel no connection or sympathy for? To call it humour is a stretch; it’s just a strange & fascinating story that’s really well told. You’ll enjoy it more if you read "Every Day is Mother's Day" 1st

  • Phil
    2019-05-28 15:03

    Very, very funny - and also not a little dark. Didn't realise till I read the brief essay by HM at the end of this edition that it was a sequel to "Every Day Is Mothers' Day", which I haven't read yet, but it's a good standalone in itself. The author said in a recent interview that when she was starting out she had no real facility for plot, and in the first few chapters of this early novel that shows - it feels a bit formulaic, like it's trying too hard. But such is the strength of her very real facility for hilarious dialogue and quietly grotesque characterisation, these misgivings quickly evaporate. Interestingly, in its concern for the crossover between mental disturbance and the supernatural, it frequently feels like a precursor to the later, and better, "Beyond Black". But it's a terrific piece of black comedy, with a fair bit of sharp social criticism thrown in. Four stars. Recommended.

  • Erica
    2019-06-07 14:42

    This is the super creepy follow-up to "Every Day is Mother's Day." It's ten years later and a wronged and pathetic character from the previous novel is let loose from the loony bin, set on ruining the lives of the people she thinks put her there. There were a lot of loose ends in "Every Day is Mother's Day," but "Vacant Possession" ties them up almost too well. One theme of the novel is coincidence, which is intentional, but requires some suspension of disbelief. It feels like an unreal parable; everyone is interconnected in a horrible knot that keeps on tightening. It's a book about vengeance. Where the first book was bleak, this one is twisted and out to get you. We never get to see the ghosts first hand, but they're there, among the humans, with a changeling or two emerging from the canal bank. Appropriate for October.

  • Kate
    2019-06-11 20:03

    Not only did I not like this book, I felt the need to get it out of my house as quickly as possible. It's very well written from the standpoint of plot pacing and sheer artistry with language, but it is so creepy and devoid of sympathy that I was afraid of contamination. There was not a single character that was worthy of redemption. Although I detested every page, I kept reading for the same reason that one gawks at horrible auto accidents.

  • Chris Sanders
    2019-06-11 11:41

    Thoroughly unejoyable.

  • Rosi Moore-fiander
    2019-06-07 17:44

    Blacker than black and hilariously funny. Brilliantly written and cleverly structured, tension builds throughout the book reaching an enigmatic climax.

  • Olivia
    2019-05-26 17:56

    An interesting range of social and psychological issues hinted at in the guise of a novella. Care in the community, nature vs nurture, Jung vs Freud? Review the tale herein or the writer? It IS greeted as a dark tale. More so than its prequel 'Every Day is Mother's Day'. They can be read as 'stand-alones'. There seemed to be wry humor within the detailed observations. Some situations remediable, others such a Muriel's and that of her formerly hospitalised acquaintances not so. Is it tragic or a case of natural justice that in the end their plights are more or less indistinguishable? That is, Muriel begins life with a handicap her own and the personality of her mother. The others though appear to have free choice, yet appear to create their lifestyles, which in the finish blend quite well with Muriel's. They too, are fed information via the conductive highways of life which is re-routed into chaos rather than the order they expect.Muriel makes some order of her life. The other characters see their lives unravel.The popular Mantel of her historical tomes may not be immediately evident in these or, say, Ghazzah Streeet. However, perhaps it is the author's background in social work, mixed cultures and political economy which lead her to perceive the social and personal dilemmas constituting 'a character'.It seems no accident that Muriel's surname is Axon.Information is fed to her by observation. From her presumed state of 'no knowledge' she fashions the information into learned roles and social behaviours. She becomes, in ways, a mirrored reflection of the people around her. People not first labelled as 'hopeless' or 'lacking'.The tale is often described as 'dark'. Is it any darker than the realities grappled with by not only these characters but those they represent? The people of today's 'everday reality'?The right to be impoverished, feared,dismissed vs the rights to be cared for by others. Others who may or may have genetic obligations they would prefer to ignore.Axon as a 'dimwit' or person with intellectual deficit learns and reflects. She is open to forming unusual friendships because she acknowledges her own unusualness. She is a naturally occurring deviation in the population. In effect, are the other characters any less so? Their behaviour is acceptable perhaps because their labels are standardly acceptable, whereas Muriel's is not.However, this is not a social work text book. Mantel's erudition and clear literary style allow her to present us with a short tale which can be seen as both a 'novel' and modern allegory incorporating some of the classic 'tells' or signs of being 'unnatural' within any social order. With the vast movement of 'political correctness' undermining previously defined classifications of what it is to be 'normal' or 'deviant' within any society, mantel seems to pose the problem most pertinently. What and when is behaviour to be seen as acceptable or troublesome, and to whom? Should there be a definite line separating the categories? Should there be 'protection' on both sides? Is such protection justified for either group?Does Muriel now, or with her mother, need special help to live amiably apart from the pressures of everyday social order? Does the community require protection from the 'Muriels'? Is so where will the line be drawn?Shades of much of the discussion of the 70's and 80's surrounding the Foucault/Jung understandings. Also perhaps that of the multiple realities encountered in Phenomenology and modern novel writings acknowledging the sense of 'deja vu' or previousl lives. Some of which are excellently researched and make a cogent case for the Jungian understanding.A very readable and thoughtful short story.

  • Natalia
    2019-06-24 12:49

    Oh I really enjoyed this one. I love revenge stories, particularly those of unusual characters. It's delightfully wicked, and actually very insightful. It showcases the failings of most government systems in looking after the more vulnerable members of its public. And how these members cope and survive within this environment. No character is truly good or bad, just flawed. Which makes it a rather remarkable story.

  • Uli Vogel
    2019-06-25 15:42

    Ten years on, the characters from "Mother's Day" are even less likeable, even less pitiable caricatures of their former self. Getting to encounter Muriel's real self and ambitions you cannot even feel sorry for her. I'll continue reading Ms Mantel's oeuvre, hoping to find someone I can sympathize with.

  • Tineka
    2019-05-30 17:46

    I didn't realize this was a sequel, but I read it anyway. On the first page:"Muriel Axon stood alone at the window of her room; a square plain woman, forty-four year old. She was wrapped in an eiderdown, and in the palm of her hand she held the boiled egg she was eating for supper."So much of this made me uncomfortable. I want to read more of this writer.

  • Susan Conklin
    2019-05-31 12:39

    Being a Hilary Mantel fan, I was not disappointed with Vacant Possession. I found the book intriguing, suspenseful and positively creepy. The return of a deranged woman seeking revenge is masterfully woven into a very dark tapestry, but the book is not without its humor, dark delicious humor.

  • Kim
    2019-06-04 12:50

    Some of Mantel's novels are so misanthropic and caustic, they ought to have mental health advisories on the cover. Yikes. Too dark to be called dark comedy.

  • Linda Humberstone
    2019-06-14 15:03

    This book is funny and macabre at the same time. It has a clever, amusing plot, well thought out and with characters that are easy to identify with as we all come across their type!

  • Carol Randall
    2019-06-25 15:40

    A strange book, definitely rather macabre but funny too. The characters were hard to like!

  • Doreen
    2019-06-10 15:41

    After gorging on Every Day Is Mother's Day, the prequel to this book (and being a bit disappointed, really, by the "horror" elements of the former,) I took my time with this novel, savoring Ms Mantel's clean, sharp prose and enjoying the contrast in the same characters written of previously, engendered by the passing of a decade. I enjoyed their realistic progression from the 1970s to the 1980s, particularly Sylvia's. She wasn't very sympathetic in the first book, but recommended herself much more to me in this one. Muriel's pathology, too, was much more evident in Vacant Possession, lending greater weight to the chain of terrible events that lead to the excellent final page.I don't know if I would have enjoyed this book as much if I hadn't read the less impressive Every Day etc. first, but will say that the books work best as a set. It's interesting, too, that the first book, billed as a horror story, was less chilling to me than the second, which is pegged on the back cover as a "darkly comic tale of retribution" (to which, yes, if you found humor in the fall of the House of Atreus, which Ms Mantel rather cheekily references here, too.) With this tale, Ms Mantel joins the ranks of writers like MR James, who understand the terror of the nebulous and unknown.I received this book gratis from Picador.

  • l.
    2019-06-06 17:44

    "Colin fell back into his chair and stared at the TV. It was an early evening variety show. To the accompaniment of facetious patter, a magician held up a burning spike and passed it slowly through the forearm of his studio volunteer. The audience applauded. The magician withdrew the brand, and held it flickering aloft. The volunteer's face wore a set, worried smile. There was an expectant hush; a roll of drums; and then the magician, with great deliberation, whipped the flame through the air and poked it cleanly through his victim's chest."There's a part in The Art of Cruelty where Maggie Nelson lists female writers known for their 'cruel writing' - the obvious (O'Connor, Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Sarah Kane etc) as well as some I'm not familiar with (hope to rectify that soon, starting with Compton-Burnett) - and I was surprised at the omission of Mantel. It's probably a cliche at this point to call her prose incisive, but it's the perfect word to describe her writing. She carves out figures and worlds with her sharp, immaculate prose, and then twists the blade, leaving you reeling and marveling slightly. Tbh, Mantel's mind terrifies me but that's part of the thrill.

  • Paula
    2019-06-02 12:36

    ‘Vacant Possession’ is the sequel to ‘Every Day is Mother’s Day’ by Hilary Mantel. ‘Vacant Possession’ begins 10 years after the events at the Axon’s house which ultimately led to Muriel being placed in Fulmers Moor in the Greyshott Ward as part of her rehabilitation to eventually return to society, which she does, but Muriel has changed, she can now mimicry (mimic) and is a mistress of disguise, one of Muriel’s hidden traits is that she watches people and for ten years she has been watching everyone in Greyshott Ward. Colin Sidney is now living in the Axon’s old house, his sister Florence still lives next door, his wife, Sylvia has reinvented herself, she has become more confidence, more sociable. Isobel Field is now married and no longer a social worker, everyone is living their lives but unknown to them, Muriel is amongst them.‘Vacant Possession’, I felt was the stronger of the two books, you find out more about Muriel and also how devious (and scary) she is, with ‘Vacant Possession’, you find out the lengths which Muriel will go to, to get her revenge.An interesting read.

  • Chrystyna
    2019-06-05 14:53

    Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel - very GoodI really shouldn't put off writing down my thoughts on the books I read, it's been almost a month since I read this and I've read another 4 and a half since then. Nevertheless, this one has stuck with me.Written back in 1986 well before the dizzy heights of Wolf Hall et al, this is a very strange little book. Bleakly, darkly funny and a little disturbing, the story centres around Murial Axon, newly released from an institution and hell bent on destroying those she blames for putting her there.I'm trying not to put any spoilers in, but the characters we meet have all got more than just Murial in common and the story builds to a final denouement which leaves you wondering about many things.This settles for me that Hilary Mantel is an author I need to backtrack on. Definitely more than just a writer of historical fiction.

  • Laura
    2019-06-11 14:42

    Colin Sidney and his dysfunctional family live in the house formerly owned by the Muriel Axon and her mother, a psychic reader. Muriel Axon is sent to a psychiatric institution after her mother dies in a fall but Muriel is released due to budget constraints and she is seeking revenge on those she blames for her problems. A complex web connects Colin and his family, the Axon's social worker, and Muriel Axon. In the end, no one is safe from Muriel, themselves, their family, and British social services.This is dark humor at its best. If the only Mantel you have read is "Wolf Hall" or "Bring Up the Bodies" then prime yourself for a totally different reading experience. This book is a sequel to "Every Day is Mother's Day" yet you don't need to have read the first book. I didn't know it was a sequel and had no problems understanding the backstory.

  • Miss Karen Jean Martinson
    2019-05-28 14:42

    Creepy, creepy stuff. Muriel, let loose in the community and left to her own devices, undertakes a horrible and horrifying plan to become restore things to what they were before she went to the mental hospital. She puts on personae to travel through the village undetected as she manipulates the lives around her. Though things have "gone on" for the ten years that Muriel was away, they haven't gone well. No one is particularly happy, and Thatcher's policies only seem to make things worse. The sick are sent home and the mentally ill seem to reign supreme. Those who were well descend into madness and those who stay we'll suffer from the stresses and disappointments that surround them. Finally, the Sidneys get a glimmer of a chance at a second happiness, only to have circumstances collide in a strange empty room once again.

  • Robert Corbett
    2019-06-21 19:04

    A black comedy about social work, at the heart of this novel is a woman who wreaks havoc on a middle class family because they took possession of the house she grew up in, though saying "grew up" suggests more normalcy than her Carrie-like upbringing would allow. Coincidences and ironies abound, all centering around professions and roles assumed to be "helping professions"--education, ministry, social work, parenthood--and their inadequacy at dealing with trouble that sets its mind at being troublesome. Towards the end, anything that can go wrong does, but no one can connect the dots. There is not a point per se, but the antagonist social invisibility which made her a "victim" in the eyes of helping profession is the perfect camouflage her revenge.

  • Derek Baldwin
    2019-05-27 17:41

    Released into Care In The Community, a woman with a horribly disturbed upbringing carefully plots her revenge against the various people she feels were responsible for her incarceration, not least the Social Worker who was last to handle her "case".I hadn't realised this was a sequel, but it didn't seem to matter as the novel was perfectly self-contained.Mordant, and very terse, style of writing, which can seem affectless. While the novel is witty it is never very funny, but quite a quick and undemanding read and worth a try if you haven't read enough satires of Thatcherite England.Personally, I had.

  • Joy
    2019-06-11 18:55

    I didn't realize this novel was a sequel to Mantel's novel Every Day Is Mothers' Day. You can easily read this book without having read the previous book first. Events from the story are recounted by various characters. I do think it may have helped with a deeper understanding of the people though. It's a successful, black comedy- very dark on the comedy- but it was so disturbing that I really couldn't get into the story. For what Hilary Mantel is trying to accomplish, it works as an unsettling study of a group of people spiraling down under circumstances brought on themselves and through the chilling machinations of Muriel Axon. Just not for me.

  • JuliaYeates
    2019-06-16 11:54

    There were so many errors, a 1 in place of an I, weird characters in place of punctuation marks, odd formatting etc, did something go awry in the creation of the Kindle version? I can't believe that the proofreader would not spot these 'mistakes' so I assume so.No excuse though, especially in a novel by Hilary Mantel. Does no-one proofread Kindle versions? If not, why not?So whilst the story was good, albeit at times confusing, and the writing made me alternate between chuckles and winces, I'm not giving it any more than two stars. If I could I'd have returned it and requested a refund.

  • Helen
    2019-05-30 17:57

    This is the sequel to Every Day is Mother's Day which I have marked 'to-read'. Vacant Possession is dark, savage and extremely funny. It is packed full of co-incidences in a Ruth Rendell-esque sort of way. Husband of Family A has affair with Wife of Family B. Daughter of Family A has affair and a child by Husband of Wife B. Mother of Father A in the same old people's ward as father of Wife B Both families were involved with social care of Muriel Axon who murdered her mother and has been released into the community. She gets a job with Family A as a cleaner and is intent on revenge....

  • Diane
    2019-06-22 15:03

    I didn't find this novel as frightening as "Every Day is Mother's Day," because the revenge plotted by Muriel Ashton is understandable, even predictable. What is shocking, however, is the denouement which suggests that it's impossible to control events or even to find reasons for them. The most terrible things can come about by coincidence or strange convergences. The novel starts slow (having to summarize events of the prequel), but then it's a fast read, better plotted than most thrillers and certainly better written.