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Vacant Possession

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Vacant Possession
Hilary Mantel

From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, a savagely funny tale that revisits the characters from the much-loved ‘Every Day is Mother’s Day’.Muriel Axon is about to re-enter the lives of Colin Sidney, hapless husband, father and schoolmaster, and Isabel Field, failed social worker and practising neurotic.It is ten years since her last tangle with them, but for Muriel this is not time enough. There are still scores to be settled, truths to be faced and rather a lot of vengeance to be wreaked.

HILARY MANTEL

Vacant Possession

Copyright (#)

Harper Perennial

An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 77–85 Fulham Palace Road Hammersmith London W6 8JB

www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk)

First published by Chatto & Windus Ltd 1986

Copyright © Hilary Mantel 1986

PS Section copyright © Louise Tucker 2006 except ‘Having a Home to Go to’ by Hilary Mantel © Hilary Mantel 2006

PS™ is a trademark of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

Hilary Mantel asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

HarperCollinsPublishers has made every reasonable effort to ensure that any picture content and written content in this ebook has been included or removed in accordance with the contractual and technological constraints in operation at the time of publication.

Source ISBN: 9781841153407

Ebook Edition © AUGUST 2010 ISBN: 9780007354870 Version: 2014-12-08

Dedication (#)

To Gerald

Epigraph (#)

‘… and that is what one does, one does not get better but different and older and that is always a pleasure.’

GERTRUDE STEIN

EZEKIEL 37:3

‘Can these bones live?’

Contents

Cover (#ufd3e25a0-1FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Title Page (#ufd3e25a0-2FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Copyright (#ufd3e25a0-3FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Dedication (#ufd3e25a0-4FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Epigraph (#ufd3e25a0-5FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Preface (#ufd3e25a0-7FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

CHAPTER 1 (#ufd3e25a0-8FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

CHAPTER 2 (#ufd3e25a0-9FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

CHAPTER 3 (#litres_trial_promo)

CHAPTER 4 (#litres_trial_promo)

CHAPTER 5 (#litres_trial_promo)

CHAPTER 6 (#litres_trial_promo)

CHAPTER 7 (#litres_trial_promo)

CHAPTER 8 (#litres_trial_promo)

CHAPTER 9 (#litres_trial_promo)

Keep Reading (#litres_trial_promo)

Excerpt from Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (#litres_trial_promo)

P.S. Ideas, interviews & features … (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

About the book (#litres_trial_promo)

Read on (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

By the same author (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Preface (#)

It was ten o’clock in the evening; raining and very dark. A man was walking along the road whistling ‘Santa Lucia’.

Muriel Axon stood alone at the window of her room; a square plain woman, forty-four years old. She was wrapped in an eiderdown, and in the palm of her hand she held the boiled egg she was eating for supper. The glow of the streetlamps showed her wet slate roofs, the long lit curve of the motorway outside the town, and a bristling cat in the shadow of a wall; beyond these, the spines of black hills.

Cradling the warm egg, Muriel dug in her fingernails to crush the shell. She did not go in for table manners; they wasted time. She began to peel the skin, wincing a little as she did so. She put her tongue into the salted gelid hollow and probed gently. The room behind her was dark, and full of the minute crackling her fingers made. She sucked, thought. Most of Muriel’s thoughts were quite unlike other people’s.

Down below, she heard the front door opening. A dim light shone onto the path, and a second later her landlord appeared, Mr Kowalski, shuffling the few paces to the gate. He looked up and down the road. No one. He stood for a moment, his bullet head shrinking into his shoulders; turned, grunting to himself, and slowly made his way back. She heard the front door slam. It was ten fifteen. Mr Kowalski was drawing the bolts, turning the key, putting the chain on the door.

CHAPTER 1 (#)

‘I wonder who will be the new Poet Laureate?’ said Colin Sidney, coming down to breakfast. There was no reply from the other residents at number 2, Buckingham Avenue. He paused on the half-landing, looking out of the little window. He saw the roof of his garage, and his neighbour’s garden. ‘Well, who?’ he muttered. There was nothing in view but a scudding 8.00 am sky, a promise of weak sunshine, a vista of close, green, dripping trees. Midsummer. Colin went down, twitching his tie.

Behind him, the three younger children were preparing for their day. He heard shrieks and curses, the kicking and slamming of doors. The radio was on, and they were playing records too; Acid Raine and the Oncogenes were shaking the walls with their current hit single. ‘Ted Hughes?’ Colin asked. ‘Larkin?’

There would be perhaps ten minutes’ grace before the children erupted down the stairs to fall on their breakfasts and begin their daily round of feuding amongst themselves and insulting their parents. Colin examined himself in the mirror at the bottom of the stairs. He wished that Sylvia would move it, so that he did not have to begin every day with a confrontation. Perhaps he could ask her. He did not think of moving it himself. He had his spheres of action; this was not one of them.

He saw a man of forty-three, with bright blue eyes, thinning hair, and what he described to himself as faded good looks. But no, he thought; courtesans are faded, schoolmasters are merely worn. He saw a kind of helplessness, in the face of family and wider society; a lack of fibre, both moral and dietary. Listening to the racket above, he solaced himself with a quotation: ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad / They may not mean to, but they do.’
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