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An Experiment in Love: A Novel by Hilary…

An Experiment in Love: A Novel (original 1995; edition 2007)

by Hilary Mantel (Author)

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4221137,826 (3.55)52
Title:An Experiment in Love: A Novel
Authors:Hilary Mantel (Author)
Info:Picador (2007), Edition: Presumed to be 1st as edition is unstated, 256 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel (1995)


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» See also 52 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
on some level, this is a book about being lost - in new surroundings and schedules, among other people, within our own thoughts and desires. but on another it's an intense personal drama centred on a triad of girls, with a mysterious tragedy ending the book. the union of the two is impressive: intimacy with huge social reverberations. ( )
  livingtoast | Jan 23, 2019 |
This was probably not the ideal way to read this book.I listened to it in the car, but it took most of a month, so there were significant gaps in the listening.
It's told in retrospect, with the adult Carmel returning to her first term at University and how she arrived at that place. She traces her friendship with Corinna & Julianne through primary school, through the 11 plus and into the selective girl's grammar. There is a vividly depicted youth in straightened circumstances, and how she deals with her parents and their deteriorating relationship as she grows further from them.
The other important relationship is that with Corinna. This is longstanding and not healthy. They are thrown together and expected to be friends as they live close and are going through the same 11 plus experience. However they are not natural friends. It becomes a form of habit, they've been classed as friends for so long that they can't make the break.
At university, she tries to take control of her life, as those around her do the same, to varying degrees. And with varying degrees of success.
At one stage, Carmel herself says that this is a book about appetite and desire. I think is is about desire for control, and being in control of appetite is one way of appearing to exert control over your life. In Carmel's case this takes a particular form, for her friends it takes different forms and has different effects.
The finale is startling and unexpected.
I felt that the characters were well drawn, and the background entirely believable. The angst of young love and life were vivid and clear. I would have wanted to know how Carmel went on after the events in the book, but it ends quite abruptly after the climax. Good book, I just spread it out too much. ( )
  Helenliz | Jan 31, 2018 |
Mantel can surely write but this story line left me wanting to know more in the end. I didn't like having to guess at what had happened to Katrina, Lynette - the why of her fate, the anorexia correction and mostly what actually did happen to Carmel after school and her relationship with her parents. How was her upbringing going to direct her being a wife and mother (maybe)? Somehow the last pages left me feeling that she was as alone as she had always been, being left to figure things out for herself. Maybe she was just glad that she had a chance to decide for herself that what she did in getting her education (pushed by her mother) was too big a price to pay. She opted out for the easier road of suburban housewife?? Then again, maybe I have missed the point? ( )
  BonnieP | Nov 4, 2014 |
This is one of those books where the author seems to be much more interested in the detail than in the story. Mantel doesn't bother to tie up any of the loose ends for us: we're expected to do the work ourselves, if we care to. The detail is rich and wonderful: as an account of growing up in relatively poor circumstances in the North of England it's almost as compelling as Oranges are not the only fruit — if you can imagine Oranges with modest Catholic wallflowers in place of ranting Pentecostal super-egos, that is — and there's a lot there that anyone who's ever been a penniless student should be able to identify with. I didn't feel that Mantel really took us to the point where we could understand why Carmel stops eating, though. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jun 29, 2013 |
Very interesting to read a Hilary Mantel book that wasn't enormous! This slight story of Carmel and her 'friends' is beautifully written and I was quite intrigued with how the story would turn out. Unfortunately, something eventually happens and then the book just finishes - rather abruptly from my point of view. So not a particularly satisfying read except from a literary perspective - most of Mantel's writing is incredibly evocative and it is worth reading the book for that reason alone. ( )
  PennyAnne | Jan 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Hilary Mantel's seventh novel, ''An Experiment in Love,'' is only the second to be published in the United States. This is a shame, because Ms. Mantel is an exceptionally good writer. Her book's title, however, is somewhat misleading. ''Experiment'' suggests clinical detachment; but if experiments are going on, they're more like what Dr. Frankenstein got up to with the body parts: intense, unholy and messy. As for ''love,'' the inaccuracy is that it's singular: there are many kinds of love in this book, almost all contaminated. ''Enter the Dragoness'' might be a more likely title, for this is a story about emotional kung fu, female style -- except that by the end, although all are wounded or worse, there's no clear winner.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 080505202X, Paperback)

Hilary Mantel's seventh novel examines the pressures on women during the 1960s to excel--but not be too successful--in England's complex hierarchy of class and status. Pushed by a domineering mother, Carmel McBain climbs her way through the pecking order and ends up at London University as an acquiescent and undernourished teenager, achieving the status so desired by her mother, but too weak to make use of it or pose a threat to anyone. Though this is Carmel's story, it reflects on a generation of girls desiring the power of men, but fearful of abandoning what is expected and proper.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A girl's climb up the social ladder in 1960s England. She is Carmel McBain from Lancashire, whose low-class mother pumps her with ambition. The novel follows Carmel through a convent school to university, describing her ups and downs integrating in her new milieu, and the price she pays for it. By the author of A Place of Greater Safety.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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