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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
How Shall I Know You?: A Short Story

How Shall I Know You?: A Short Story

Hilary Mantel

Henry Holt and Co.



"She looked up and smiled. She had a face of feral sweetness, its color yellow; her eyes were long and dark, her mouth a taut bow, her nostrils upturned as if she were scenting the wind."

In "How Shall I Know You?," a melancholic and ailing writer reluctantly travels east of London to give a lecture before a literary society. Mr. Simister, the organization's secretary, lures the world-weary novelist turned biographer with promises of a modest stipend and lodging at a charming bed-and-breakfast for her trouble. Nevertheless, on that rainy day she meets Mr. Simister at the train station, she wonders why she ever agreed to come in the first place. Driving past steel-shuttered windows and Day-Glo banners, Mr. Simister takes the writer to her hotel for the evening, which turns out to be crumbling and isolated rather than picturesque. As she crosses the threshold into the dank stench of Eccles House she is faced with the feral porter, Louise, and suffers through an evening that may be more than she bargained for.

From Hilary Mantel's brilliant and darkly comic collection of contemporary stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, comes a tale told with her distinctive blend of subversive wit and gimlet-eyed characterization. "How Shall I Know You?" showcases the extraordinary genius of Hilary Mantel, called one of our "greatest living novelists" (NPR).

Barnes and Noble Best New Books of the Year

Praise for How Shall I Know You?: A Short Story

"Despite the plethora of sharply observed social detail, her short stories always recognize other potential realities...Even the most straightforward of Mantel’s tales (“Offenses Against the Person,” “The Heart Fails Without Warning”) retain a faintly otherworldly air."—The Washington Post -

Reviews from Goodreads

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is the two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize for her best-selling novels, Wolf Hall, and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies—an unprecedented achievement. The Royal Shakespeare Company recently adapted Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the stage to colossal critical acclaim. The two productions, which run at the Swan Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon until March 29th have been sold out for months. Those without tickets can look forward to the BBC/Masterpiece six part adaption of the novels, which will broadcast in the Spring of 2015 with "Homeland" actor, Damien Lewis, to star as Henry VII and Mark Rylance to portray Thomas Cromwell.??

The author of thirteen books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving up the Ghost, she is currently at work on the third installment of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy.

image of Hilary Mantelo
Els Zweerink

Read a New York Times interview