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Publisher's Summary

Carmel McBain is the only child of working-class Irish-Catholic parents. Her mother aspires to something more for her than what life in their depressed mill town has to offer. She is ambitious for her daughter, determined that she slip through England's rigid social barriers. And so, early on, she pushes Carmel, first to gain a scholarship to the local convent school, then to sit the exams for a place at London University. And Carmel does not disappoint. But success carries with it a fearful price. It sets her on a lonely journey that will take her as far as possible from where she began, uprooting her from the ties of class and place, of family and faith, and ultimately from her own self.

A coming-of-age novel, a memoir of a Catholic childhood, a piercing and witty look at social pretensions, a story of lost possibilities and girlhood betrayals: perhaps only a novelist of Hilary Mantel's enormous talents could have taken such material and shaped it into so fresh and arresting a tale.

©1995 Hilary Mantel (P)2011 W.F. Howes

What listeners say about An Experiment in Love

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Sixties Proto Feminist Lit

I am so glad to expand my enjoyment of this wonderful author by this audible of her first novel. The reader is wonderful, with a northern, working class inflection that's not laid on too thick, but a welcome change from the overly crisp (to this Yank's ears) readings of so many of my favorite British novels.

I also highly recommend Mantel Pieces, the author's own reading of a selection of her essays for The London Review of Books.

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Wonderful writing

This book has remarkable imagery, deft character delineation and crackling dialogue
which keep the reader’s or listener’s interest in spite of a weak narrative. The “ok, we’re done here” denouement is deeply unsatisfying. Ms Mantel is certainly more comfortable with a violent conclusion. Still, the book is worthwhile.

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Curiously Compelling

Not my favorite of her novels but I still think worth the listen because she writes so well and gives us a portrait of a specific time, place and community. Especially the class divide in England and the cultural challenges facing women in post war Britain. An excellent narration kept me listening. A Change of Climate and Giving up the Ghost still my favorites. if you listen and like this novel then definitely get Giving up the Ghost - in a similar vein.

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Excellent story telling

I rather enjoyed this novel. I was so wrapped up in it that like her friend is didn't realize Carmel was suffering from the terrible disorder