A dazzling collection of short stories from the two-time winner of the Booker Prize and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Wolf Hall trilogy.
In the wake of Hilary Mantel’s brilliant conclusion to her award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy, Learning to Talk is a collection of loosely autobiographical stories that locates the transforming moments of a haunted childhood.
Absorbing and evocative, these drawn-from-life stories begin in the 1950s in an insular northern village “scoured by bitter winds and rough gossip tongues.” For the young narrator, the only way to survive is to get up, get on, get out. In “King Billy Is a Gentleman,” the child must come to terms with the loss of a father and the puzzle of a fading Irish heritage. “Curved Is the Line of Beauty" is a story of friendship, faith and a near-disaster in a scrap-yard. The title story sees our narrator ironing out her northern vowels with the help of an ex-actress with one lung and a Manchester accent. In “Third Floor Rising," she watches, amazed, as her mother carves out a stylish new identity.
With a deceptively light touch, Mantel illuminates the poignant experiences of childhood that leave each of us forever changed.
“A book of her short stories is like a little sweet treat...Mantel’s narrators never tell everything they know, and that’s why they’re worth listening to, carefully.” —USA Today
“Her short stories always recognize other potential realities...Even the most straightforward of Mantel’s tales retain a faintly otherworldly air.” —The Washington Post