Hilary Mantel, author of the Wolf Hall trilogy and two-time Booker Prize winner, shares what she’s reading now …
“I’m reading Unsettled, a book by Rosaleen McDonagh, which I picked up in Kerr’s bookshop in Clonakilty in Co Cork. I was still reading it at 2am in the morning. It is the most extraordinary memoir of a woman, one of 15 children in a Traveller family, who has cerebral palsy. It is a miracle the book came to be written considering the start in life that McDonagh had – being a Traveller, being disabled and with the added complication of being a woman.
One of the most heartbreaking sentences in the book describes how, when she was in residential care, they didn’t have many electrically powered wheelchairs, and those they did have were given to the boys. She was not able to move her manual wheelchair because she didn’t have enough power in her hands. I love memoirs and this one caught my eye because of its stunning cover. It was sitting on the Irish history shelf where I had just picked up a book about Kinsale 1601. Gerald [McEwan, Mantel’s husband] and I are moving to West Cork so I am beginning to fill the gaps in my knowledge. This area is thick with history, from pre-history onwards, and I am looking forward to reading more. It’s the right time for us to move. This year we are both 70, so it is now or never! This is where I will fire up my new projects.
I’m also reading a lot of contemporary fiction – entries for a competition I’m judging for Mslexia, which is a magazine for women who write, whether beginners or more established. It’s a really excellent magazine with lots of competition and exercises which I find very helpful. That has been keeping me busy!”
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