A New York Times Notable Book
A Newsday Best Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize
A paragon of efficiency, well-schooled in the mundane tasks of an average existence, Colette took the next natural step after finishing secretarial school—marrying a man who would do just fine. After a sobering do-it-yourself divorce, Colette, for this first time, is at a loss as to what to do next. Convinced that she deserves a life-affirming revelation, she strays into the world of psychics and clairvoyants, the realm of tarot cards and crystal balls, hungry for a whisper to set her off in the right direction. At a psychic fair in Windsor she sneaks into Alison's show.
Alison, beleaguered by spirits since early childhood, lives in a different kind of solitude. She can never escape the dead who speak to her, and the physical pain of their broken bodies—least of all the constant presence of Morris, her low-life spiritual guide. An expansive on stage—in both the physical and the charismatic sense—Alison feels a bond with Colette almost instantly, and invites her to become her personal assistant.
A dark, odd, unsettling, yet often amusing novel, Beyond Black follows the pair as they create a new life together, both women struggling to retain control in the face of the material and metaphysical pressures of the modern world. When they move to an industrial wasteland in the ravished English countryside and take in a vagrant who also hears voices (but of a different kind), Alison’s connections to the place beyond black converge with the scrutiny of her neighbors, threatening to uproot her life completely.
With her trademark wit and keen eye for humanity's eccentrics, Hilary Mantel brings us an irresistible account of the complications of lives at the edge of the spirit world—and beyond.