Vacant Possession

Hilary Mantel, Author Owl Books (NY) $13 (242p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6271-7
The haunting sequel to Mantel's Every Day Is Mother's Day (see above) offers powerful insight into its precursor. Muriel Axon is the untouchable yet tarnished heroine here, and she selectively reveals her disturbing plans for revenge against all who vaguely knew and despised her. A decade after the close of the first book, Muriel has just been released from the institution where she was housed after her mother's suspicious death, and has since acquired new skills to aid her vengeful mission. Taking on the identity of ""Poor Mrs. Wilmot,"" she rents a room from paranoid Russian landlord Mr. Kowalski and works the night shift as a cleaning lady at St. Matthew Hospital, where, not coincidentally, she assumes an unlikely bedside manner with the elder Mrs. Sidney and her former social worker Isabel Field's bedridden father. Mrs. Sidney's son, Colin; his wife, Sylvia; and their four children have moved into the former Axon home despite its history as a house of violent tragedy. Even after a renovation and the help of a new though odd housekeeper, Lizzie Blank, the house refuses to be maintained. Although Colin ended an affair years ago, the strain of being the breadwinner while being ignored by the civic-minded Sylvia and hassled by his money-grubbing teenagers allows him to entertain the fantasy of finding his lost lover. And he does reconnect, thanks in part to his naive, 18-year-old daughter. Surprise revelations from start to finish mark Mantel as a remarkably clever writer whose second book, paired with her first, makes for wickedly pleasurable reading. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
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FORMATS
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-312-66804-4
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-5457-0
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-1-84115-340-7
Hardcover - 8 pages - 978-1-4712-5105-4
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4712-5788-9
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