Ink in the Blood: A Hospital Diary by Hilary Mantel

This is a short memoir which I read quickly and easily on my Kindle – it’s only available on Kindle! Quite ironic that the first ebook (ie inkless) I read should be called ‘Ink in the Blood’! I was really pleased to find this because I loved Wolf Hall and had tickets for Hilary Mantel’s talk at the Borders Book Festival at Melrose in the summer.  She had to cancel that because she wasn’t well – I didn’t know just how ill she was. Ink in the Blood reveals all – how she had surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction that ended up in a marathon operation, followed by intense pain, nightmares and hallucinations.

Illness she found knocks down our defences, revealing things we should never see, needing moment by moment concentration on breathing, on not being sick and being dependent on others for your well-being. She read Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill, which she thought was piffle, describing decorous illnesses such as fainting, fevers and headaches. She wonders what sort of wuss Woolf was, as she obeyed her doctors when they forbade her to write, whereas writing was Hilary Mantel’s lifeline – it was the ink, as she wrote in her diary, that reassured her she was alive.

It’s amazing how much she has managed to pack into this short memoir and one that repays more than one reading.

Product Description  from Amazon

During the summer after Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, she fell very ill. Just how ill is described in her extraordinary diary, Ink in the Blood. Originally published in the London Review of Books, it is one of the most incredible and haunting essays published in a very long time. In the diary she explores in forensic detail her loss of dignity, her determination, the concentration of the senses into an animalistic struggle to get through, and the attendant hallucinations she was plagued by.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 134 KB
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (15 Dec 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • ASIN: B004GJXQ0C
  • Source: I bought it

6 thoughts on “Ink in the Blood: A Hospital Diary by Hilary Mantel

  1. I loved Wolf Hall also, this memoir sounds a good read. Do you enjoy your kindle? I’m never certain whether I could get used to not holding the paper pages.


  2. Mog, although it’s early days yet with my Kindle I am getting very used to it very quickly. I think it’s because I’m so used to reading blogs!! But I don’t think it will ever completely replace paper pages for me.


  3. I loved Wolf Hall, I’m sorry to hear that she fell so gravely ill following writing it! Kindle alone, eh? Rats, I just have my iPhone Kindle. I might try it though.


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