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Learning to Talk
Cover of Learning to Talk
Learning to Talk
Stories
Borrow Borrow

"The multiple performances in this audiobook are uniformly adept, providing listeners the disarming experience of adults unflinchingly looking back at childhood." -AudioFile on Learning to Talk

Learning to Talk
is a dazzling collection of short stories from the
two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Wolf Hall Trilogy.
With a new foreword by Hilary Mantel.

In the wake of Hilary Mantel's brilliant conclusion to her award-winning Wolf Hall Trilogy, this collection of loosely autobiographical stories locates the transforming moments of a haunted childhood.
Sharp and funny, these drawn-from-life stories begin in the 1950s in an insular northern village "scoured by bitter winds and rough gossip tongues." For the child 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
A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company.

"The multiple performances in this audiobook are uniformly adept, providing listeners the disarming experience of adults unflinchingly looking back at childhood." -AudioFile on Learning to Talk

Learning to Talk
is a dazzling collection of short stories from the
two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Wolf Hall Trilogy.
With a new foreword by Hilary Mantel.

In the wake of Hilary Mantel's brilliant conclusion to her award-winning Wolf Hall Trilogy, this collection of loosely autobiographical stories locates the transforming moments of a haunted childhood.
Sharp and funny, these drawn-from-life stories begin in the 1950s in an insular northern village "scoured by bitter winds and rough gossip tongues." For the child 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
A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company.

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About the Author-
  • Hilary Mantel was a renowned English writer who twice won the Booker Prize, for her best-selling novel Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. The final novel of the Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror & the Light, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and won worldwide critical acclaim. Mantel wrote seventeen celebrated books, including the memoir Giving Up the Ghost, and she was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, the Walter Scott Prize, the Costa Book Award, the Hawthornden Prize, and many other accolades. In 2014, Mantel was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). She died at age seventy in 2022.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The multiple performances in this audiobook are uniformly adept, providing listeners the disarming experience of adults unflinchingly looking back at childhood. Mantel's seven short stories capture English childhood with an adult's reflective capacity and critical eye. The result is not quite a memoir; rather, it sounds like variations on the author's memories. Patrick Moy sets the tone while delivering the opening story of a mother and her various relationships after the father of her children leaves. "Learning to Talk" captures the vulnerability of a young student who struggles with elocution lessons; in "Third Floor Rising," an older child watches her mother at her job and observes how things work there. The collection is an enveloping listening experience devoid of sentimentality. S.P.C. � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 4, 2022
    Two-time Booker winner Mantel (Wolf Hall) departs from the broad canvas of Tudor history for a revelatory collection drawing on her childhood in a northern English moorland village. Several center on fraught relationships with parents and stepparents. “You should not judge your parents,” says the narrator, twice, in “Giving up the Ghost.” Mantel quotes Thucydides one moment, Shakespeare the next, or St. Augustine, and high and low fit together comfortably in “Curved Is the Line of Beauty,” in which the narrator remembers seeing the Arthur O’Shaughnessy poem referenced in the title on a jar as a child, which brings solace during a tough time ruled by Catholic guilt and limited means (“we continued to live in one of those houses where there was never any money, and doors were slammed hard”). In “The Clean Slate,” which begins with the narrator working on her family tree with her mother, the narrator reflects memorably on history: “I distrust anecdote. I like to understand history through figures and percentages of these figures, through knowing the price of coal and the price of corn.... I like to be free, so far as I can, from the tyranny of interpretation.” Throughout, the author’s humanity shines through.

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    Macmillan Audio
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Learning to Talk
Learning to Talk
Stories
Hilary Mantel
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