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Every Day Is Mother's Day by Hilary Mantel

Every Day Is Mother's Day (1985)

by Hilary Mantel

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Evelyn Axon is an aging medium who lives with her mentally disabled daughter Muriel in a deteriorating Victorian house with a run-down lean-to out back. Muriel’s latest social worker, Isabel Field, is having an affair with the history teacher Colin Sidney, whose sister Florence is one of the Axon’s neighbors. Will Colin leave his wife and three bratty children for Isabel? What is haunting the Axon house? And who made Muriel pregnant? By turns creepy and funny, Mantel’s first published novel is intelligent and eminently readable. ( )
  pollgott | May 10, 2012 |
Quite good. Witty, literary, sharp. Expects you to keep up, but accessible. Occult, like Mantel's 'Beyond Black.' Interesting to see her earlier take on the subject. Set in the seventies and featuring a philandering husband, dull jobs, misbehaving children, a social worker and her woeful clients. A lot of misery crammed into a small book and somehow dealt with humorously while not irreverently. Mantel is really a genius. I can't figure out why I didn't love it except that it deals with some pretty heavy subjects. Child abuse, I guess. One of the best horrible dinner party scenes ever written. Full of brilliant lines: "Frank whirled about, Sylvia's coat in his arm like a comatose dancing partner". ( )
  kylekatz | Jul 31, 2011 |
In Every Day is Mother's Day Hilary Mantel gives us Colin Sidney, a dissatisfied history teacher who attends evening classes on subjects he has no interest in, just to get away from his wife and children for a few hours. He and his wife never seem to have a conversation that isn't contentious, and the children are sticky horrid little monsters with no hint of individual personalities (in short, quite unlike real children in my experience, where even the horrid ones are "people".) During a creative writing class (in which he writes nothing) Colin latches on to an inept social worker named Isabel who has no life either, and they embark on a hopeless little affair. One of Isabel's clients is Muriel Axon, a slightly retarded woman who lives with her mother, coincidentally next door to Colin's sister. Muriel and her mother are equally deranged, but in rather different ways, and what they get up to, grim as it all is, can be blackly humorous. Hilary Mantel has a monumental talent; her writing carries you along and keeps you engaged in the story, even when you don't particularly like the story. The best part of this book was a lengthy scene in which Colin and his pregnant wife arrive late at a dinner party hosted by the head of his department, to find that everyone there is already half pickled on the free booze, and well into a routine of head games to which Colin is very reluctant witness. It's a brilliant bashing of academic "types" who have no real interest in anything and find their only pleasures in intoxication and one-upsmanship. I can't say I greatly enjoyed the book overall, but parts of it made the whole worth reading. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jan 19, 2011 |
Every day is mother's day because Mother (Evelyn), ostensibly the "normal" one in the Axon home (although she is in touch with a variety of evil spirits within the house), rules the life of her daughter Muriel, who is somewhat retarded or somewhat crazy (or both), but definitely uneducated and tormented, with an iron hand. Into this mix comes a new social worker, Isabel, who just happens to be having an affair with the unhappy married brother of the woman who lives next door. With her usual perception and wit, Mantel raises the tension until this cauldron of troubles bubbles over.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Jan 19, 2011 |
It was very understated. I kept waiting for something to happen besides phone calls. ( )
  picardyrose | Oct 3, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805062726, Paperback)

Stephen King meets Muriel Spark in Hilary Mantel's first novel.

Evelyn Axona-medium by trade-and her half-wit daughter Muriel have become a social problem. Barricaded in their once-respectable house, they live amid festering rubbish, unhealthy smells-and secrets. They completely baffle Isabel Field, the social worker assigned to help them. But Isabel is only the most recent in a long line of people that find the Axons impossible. Meanwhile, Isabel has her own problems: a married lover, Colin. He is a history teacher to unresponsive children and father to a passel of his own horrible kids. With all this to worry about, how can Isabel even begin to understand what is going on in the Axon household? When Evelyn finally moves to def Muriel, and Muriel, in turn, acts to protect herself, the results are by turns hilarious and terrifying.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:37 -0400)

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A social worker is baffled by a mother-daughter team drowning in festering rubbish, unhealthy smells in their dilapidated home, and too many secrets that keep them sick.

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