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Ralph and Anna Eldred live in the big Red House in Norfolk, raising their four children and devoting their lives to charity. But the constant flood of 'good souls and sad cases' welcomed into their home hides the growing crises in their own family. From the violent townships of South Africa to the windswept countryside of Norfolk, this is an epic yet subtle family saga abo Ralph and Anna Eldred live in the big Red House in Norfolk, raising their four children and devoting their lives to charity. But the constant flood of 'good souls and sad cases' welcomed into their home hides the growing crises in their own family. From the violent townships of South Africa to the windswept countryside of Norfolk, this is an epic yet subtle family saga about what happens when trust is broken - This recording is unabridged. Typically abridged audiobooks are not more than 60% of the author's work and as low as 30% with characters and plotlines removed.


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Ralph and Anna Eldred live in the big Red House in Norfolk, raising their four children and devoting their lives to charity. But the constant flood of 'good souls and sad cases' welcomed into their home hides the growing crises in their own family. From the violent townships of South Africa to the windswept countryside of Norfolk, this is an epic yet subtle family saga abo Ralph and Anna Eldred live in the big Red House in Norfolk, raising their four children and devoting their lives to charity. But the constant flood of 'good souls and sad cases' welcomed into their home hides the growing crises in their own family. From the violent townships of South Africa to the windswept countryside of Norfolk, this is an epic yet subtle family saga about what happens when trust is broken - This recording is unabridged. Typically abridged audiobooks are not more than 60% of the author's work and as low as 30% with characters and plotlines removed.

30 review for A Change of Climate (Unabridged Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Praveen

    "Forgetting is an art like other arts, It needs dedication and practice." The title of the first page of this book is 'SAD CASES, GOOD SOULS' 1970' and just below it on the left corner of the page, I had written, in feeble black, by a graphite pencil, a date on which I started reading this novel. It is 12 September 2012, and after that it is written 'to desert', again by me using the same pencil. I remember, I had bought this novel just before my train journey to the desert land of India and most "Forgetting is an art like other arts, It needs dedication and practice." The title of the first page of this book is 'SAD CASES, GOOD SOULS' 1970' and just below it on the left corner of the page, I had written, in feeble black, by a graphite pencil, a date on which I started reading this novel. It is 12 September 2012, and after that it is written 'to desert', again by me using the same pencil. I remember, I had bought this novel just before my train journey to the desert land of India and most part of this book was read by me during that journey. This is a well written novel, indeed a very well written. I had moved ahead with this novel due to its exquisite writing style. I am writing this review today because after rereading In a Free State, a few days ago, the plot of this novel flashed in my mind because a part of it is also set there in Africa like that of 'In a free state.' This entire story moves around the theme of "good souls and bad cases". It's an intelligent novel with the family saga of Ralph and his wife Anna Eldred. They live in England but later move to Africa as missionaries, not as religious one but for doing some good work only. Their difficulties in the South Africa and then their getting drawn into the politics there and getting engaged in the constant conflict has been perfectly woven in words by Mantel. There happens,with the family such things which ultimately shape their rest of life. The characters of novel are made really strong. Apart from Anna and Ralph, their son is strongly portrayed. Emma, sister of Ralph, who is unmarried but is having an affair with a married man, is also a character with command. When her lover Felix dies, she goes to a shrine,there is, a vast book in the porch, its pages ruled into columns. A notice promises there. "All whose names are inscribed in the book will be prayed for at the shrine." But She does not write her name or name of her lover, rather she puts down the name of Ralph and his family ! Then returning from there, lines of poetry run through her head, those are insistent lines, stuffed with a crude menace. " The glacier knocks in the cupboard,   The desert sighs in the bed,   And the crack in the tea-cup opens   A lane to the land of the dead." This book leaves us with some very difficult questions. Questions about faith and betrayal ! Questions about injustice and bereavement ! I loved the way this book is written, in quite an impactful and elegant manner ! 

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    What happens to a family when they allow the bigger world and especially its injustices into their lives. The timeline of this novel shifts back and forth. It begins in the present when husband Ralph Elsted is director of a religious charitable trust and his wife Anna has a weak heart. Quickly we are plunged back into the past when Ralph is at war with his puritanical and dogmatic father. To escape Ralph accepts a post in a church-funded mission house in a South African township. This is 1955 wh What happens to a family when they allow the bigger world and especially its injustices into their lives. The timeline of this novel shifts back and forth. It begins in the present when husband Ralph Elsted is director of a religious charitable trust and his wife Anna has a weak heart. Quickly we are plunged back into the past when Ralph is at war with his puritanical and dogmatic father. To escape Ralph accepts a post in a church-funded mission house in a South African township. This is 1955 when the apartheid government has passed a law forbidding education to black children. Ralph and Anna quickly get into trouble with the South African authorities. This section of the novel is particularly accomplished. Eventually they are arrested and then deported to a remote corner of the world - Bechuanaland. It's here that Ralph and Anna undergo the pivotal moment of their lives (Mantel does a fabulous job of withholding this mystery at the same time as creating bags of tension around it). I was fully invested in this beautifully written and constructed novel from start to end. To my mind, along with Ali Smith, Hilary Mantel is the best living female British novelist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia Hobbet

    This is my new favorite Mantel (every one of her books becomes my favorite right after I read it). One of her non-historical novels, it's set in 1970's Apartheid S. Africa and in England in the 1990's. Almost anything I say of the plot is too much, so I'll say very little: A young missionary couple goes to S. Africa in the seventies and something almost unspeakably horrifying happens to them there. Like the good Britons they are, they come back to the UK with the past buried deep. But twenty yea This is my new favorite Mantel (every one of her books becomes my favorite right after I read it). One of her non-historical novels, it's set in 1970's Apartheid S. Africa and in England in the 1990's. Almost anything I say of the plot is too much, so I'll say very little: A young missionary couple goes to S. Africa in the seventies and something almost unspeakably horrifying happens to them there. Like the good Britons they are, they come back to the UK with the past buried deep. But twenty years and several kids later, it resurfaces and sunders the couple in a heart-breaking way. Toward the end of this spare, beautiful novel (almost no one writes with the powerful economy Mantel has mastered), I couldn't imagine how she was going to end the story, how she could possibly draw it to a satisfying finish. But she does. I finished the book one afternoon in a hotel as my husband and I were waiting around for one activity or another around a family wedding. We were both reading quietly, and I turned the final page. Mantel's concluding paragraphs hit me like a physical blow in the chest, and tears sprang to my eyes, alarming my husband. I'm still in amazement. I'd seen all Mantel's threads, and as a writer myself, I'd tried to follow her flow of thought, her planning of the novel--and failed. The most amazing thing is that, now, the ending feels inevitable. How could it have ended any other way?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    A Change Of Climate centers around a Norfolk family, Ralph and Anna Elsted, their parents and their four children. It flips backward and forward in time--from 1980 in Norfolk to the late 1950s where the setting shifts to missionaries in Elim (outside of Pretoria, South Africa) and Bechuanaland (corresponding to present day Botswana). We know it is after 1953 since the Bantu Education Act had been passed. This law legalized aspects of the apartheid system and enforced racially separated schools. A Change Of Climate centers around a Norfolk family, Ralph and Anna Elsted, their parents and their four children. It flips backward and forward in time--from 1980 in Norfolk to the late 1950s where the setting shifts to missionaries in Elim (outside of Pretoria, South Africa) and Bechuanaland (corresponding to present day Botswana). We know it is after 1953 since the Bantu Education Act had been passed. This law legalized aspects of the apartheid system and enforced racially separated schools. It had the effect of imposing illiteracy on the non-white population. The parents are dedicated to philanthropic work. Why, is an essential part of the novel, as is the parents’ zealous need to “do good”. One can ask, at the cost to whom? The mother and father guard a secret, an event in their past that has marked them and shaped them into who they are. Another book about family secrets. The beginning is confusing. Why? Mantel wants to create suspense and a sense of mystery. At the start we meet a multitude of characters. None are introduced. We surmise that we are at a funeral, but whose? Only much later can a reader possibly grasp what has occurred or how one character is related to another. Suspense is enhanced by one crisis being heaped on another. A crisis arises--objects are stolen, a dog is killed and then there is, of course, also a violent storm. The tension mounts, you want to know more, but what does Mantel do? She switches the time frame. I dislike being played with in this manner. The beginning is slow and confusing. At the middle the story picks upn speed. At the end it drags again. The ending is just too (view spoiler)[schmaltzy (hide spoiler)] for me. Too over-done. Mantel lays everything on too thick, and this is so not just at the end. I did not come to feel for the characters. There are too many elements to the story. It does not hold together as it should. One is given at least three different stories—the long awaited, climactic events in Africa, (view spoiler)[an attempted suicide of a teenage delinquent, a midlife crisis and an adulterous affair (hide spoiler)] . Do one story well rather than taping together three. The narration is performed by Sandra Duncan. It was fine. Not hard to follow and read at a good speed. A bit too over-dramatized for my taste. Several times Emma sounded like Anna and vice versa, but you know by the context who it had to have been. The narration I have given three stars. The book is not terrible, but merely OK.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Steamy hot July and after rather a downturn in a long line of books read, I come across two sizzling 5 stars in a row. This particular one? Only my reaction, as I can not begin to imply the depth of the plots and the twining of characterizations. Complex all- and also in two geographical locations. Norwich in England and South Africa, both during the middle of the last century in the decades following WWII. Rarely, rarely do masters in words, enclose you within a dichotomy of the perception and Steamy hot July and after rather a downturn in a long line of books read, I come across two sizzling 5 stars in a row. This particular one? Only my reaction, as I can not begin to imply the depth of the plots and the twining of characterizations. Complex all- and also in two geographical locations. Norwich in England and South Africa, both during the middle of the last century in the decades following WWII. Rarely, rarely do masters in words, enclose you within a dichotomy of the perception and worldview another can have. Completely. And more so how that quality derives from a parent or can fall habit to a grandchild. And yet all is actually of "a piece" despite their psyches seemingly being from oppositional poles of actions and lifestyle. So we become our mothers or our fathers, particularly if we are still reacting to their outlooks and mores- even if it is in rejecting or reversed priority reaction. Hilary Mantel is a genius. She is one of two absolutely tops British gems in understanding and writing human nature and motivation. The other is Jane Gardam. I am a BIG fan of Hilary Mantel and will read all she writes. I knew what she could do for Cromwell, but I had little idea what depth she reads in the common good man. And good woman. Read this book. It is doubly important in this particular era when the Sad Cases and the Good Souls are so cored and eminent in "feel good" media. And where is the priority in action to the help for the more self-starting and deserved of initiative? Or priority to those to whom love has been promised, not just accepted and expected. So many issues raised in this story in which a strong belief in work or religion or any dogma can obscure personal relationship or, over time, bury it. Work/career does that for so many moderns. Hilary Mantel and Jane Gardam should be given the honor of being titled before they pass. We will not see their insight and precise placements of emotion with full intelligent wit in such human histories every decade. This depth is rare. Age has just made them so much more than better- they are perfect masters of writing the human reality and heart. This is Hilary's best. If you love this book, read right after "A Land More Kind than Home" by Wiley Cash. They have immense parallels and it speaks to the man's heart in this Change of Climate. Gives even a better male voice to the role this protagonist Ralph has taken for himself in Mantel's "Climate". Female comparisons are also apt, but it is in an entirely different part of the world. Circumstance of marriage relationship, not all that different at all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    One of those great books that is hard to recommend. This is a pretty detailed family saga spanning several generations and although the details accumulate and build to a satisfying ending sequence, they seem to weigh the book down at times. To summarize briefly without giving away too much, some pretty awful stuff happens to a family of do-gooders. If you do read this, avoid looking at any of the plot descriptions. The effect Mantel achieves in leading us to and finally revealing an unspoken eve One of those great books that is hard to recommend. This is a pretty detailed family saga spanning several generations and although the details accumulate and build to a satisfying ending sequence, they seem to weigh the book down at times. To summarize briefly without giving away too much, some pretty awful stuff happens to a family of do-gooders. If you do read this, avoid looking at any of the plot descriptions. The effect Mantel achieves in leading us to and finally revealing an unspoken event is devastating, but would likely be ruined by too much advance knowledge of the story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    There is no doubt about it - Hilary Mantel is an immensely talented, even brilliant, writer. The way she expresses thoughts and feelings in language is unusual, moving, and beautiful. A Change of Climate doesn't even compare to Wolf Hall. It's an earlier book, focused on a smaller story, and concerned with personalities far less interesting than Thomas Cromwell. At times the story reminded me of Fall on Your Knees (though I admit it's been decades since I read that book) in terms of being a dark There is no doubt about it - Hilary Mantel is an immensely talented, even brilliant, writer. The way she expresses thoughts and feelings in language is unusual, moving, and beautiful. A Change of Climate doesn't even compare to Wolf Hall. It's an earlier book, focused on a smaller story, and concerned with personalities far less interesting than Thomas Cromwell. At times the story reminded me of Fall on Your Knees (though I admit it's been decades since I read that book) in terms of being a dark family drama populated by a tight-knit, large family of four siblings, their parents, aunts, grandparents, and also Little Bee ( known in the UK by the title The Other Hand), for the element of Brits abroad in Africa on whom a terrible criminal act is performed, and how they recover from it. This book is difficult; twisty; dark; the family suffers hardships and in their line of work (operating a charitable trust for down-and-out people, recovering [or still using] drug addicts, runaways, the poor) encounter difficult people. They themselves are not an easy family to love. The book at times seems to be saying something about the great and unbearable need of people, and to ask the question: is a lifetime spent trying to provide for that need - even with the smallest possible acts of assistance and kindness - worthwhile? Is it effective? Does it help? And can you blame people for who they are? For slipping into patterns of self-destructive behavior? For lashing out, and hurting, beyond measure, the people who attempt to help them? They are difficult themes, and the book is not an easy one to get through, although, when reading it, I was immersed in the pages and could easily read 70 or 80 pages in a sitting. Returning to the book and the darkness and unhappiness that it held was more difficult. 3.5 out of 4, rounded up

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    This is a good story with some important themes. It is nicely plotted and satisfactorily concluded and the characters are well drawn. I wish I hadn't chosen to listen to it as an audio book though because I feel I missed a lot and I was sidetracked continually by the tone of voice and variety of accents used by the reader which completely dominated the story, particularly influencing my reactions to the characters. The reader chose to use a fragile, pathetic sounding tone for the main character This is a good story with some important themes. It is nicely plotted and satisfactorily concluded and the characters are well drawn. I wish I hadn't chosen to listen to it as an audio book though because I feel I missed a lot and I was sidetracked continually by the tone of voice and variety of accents used by the reader which completely dominated the story, particularly influencing my reactions to the characters. The reader chose to use a fragile, pathetic sounding tone for the main character and so it was difficult to identify with her and yet she was an incredibly strong character who deserved our empathy. There was a similar problem with some of the other female characters. I might reread it later when I've forgotten the intricacies of the plot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Apollinaire

    I don't read thrillers, and this novel by the "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" master is not a thriller, but the way it dilated and slowed right when you knew something terrible was going to happen was so terrifying that I actually couldn't continue (for a few hours anyway). This not-thriller converts thrill into terror by discovering the Bad we cannot escape not in action or event but in people, the bad seeds whom no amount of "giving the benefit of the doubt" will help. But that describes I don't read thrillers, and this novel by the "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" master is not a thriller, but the way it dilated and slowed right when you knew something terrible was going to happen was so terrifying that I actually couldn't continue (for a few hours anyway). This not-thriller converts thrill into terror by discovering the Bad we cannot escape not in action or event but in people, the bad seeds whom no amount of "giving the benefit of the doubt" will help. But that describes most thrillers, with their Jeffrey Dalmers. What is different here is that Mantel tries out this idea of what we "work with" in other people in more mundane and benign but also more unavoidable settings: family, marriages, etc. So they become terrifying by association. The trauma at the center of the innocently titled "Change of Climate" happened decades before its present (the late 1970s) when Anna and Ralph Eldred are living in northern England (the windswept sea-version of Bronte terrain) with their big, chaotic do-gooder family. The tragedy occurred when The Eldreds were newlyweds running a mission in South Africa, less for religious purposes than for humanitarian ones, and were jailed for "terrorism" (i.e., congregating with Blacks and "coloreds".) Someone had been spying on them and reported their activities to the South African police. So the Eldreds are given the choice to either head back to England or go north to Botswana and run a ghostly missionary there. If they stay put, they'll be terrorized by the local Afrikaaners and the police will do nothing. The Eldreds are too proud to head home, but in Botswana they meet with much worse calamity. The husband, whose idea this mission was, has the kind of abstract sense of people that allows him to hope for them but also makes him blind to danger, and he ends up walking right into tragedy, trailing his wife et. al. after him. The thing is, his and her mistakes in judgement are not so far from what any of us "bleeding-heart" types (ie., everyone I know) would make. The book was scary enough that I had to haul out gloomy nostrums to recover. ("Trust your instincts." "Righteousness is just another name for pride." "Your worst fears are probably at least half right," etc. etc.) I'm doing okay now, though, probably out of a healthy defensive system: I found myself wondering if Mantel's domestic analogies for the novel's "heart of darkness" are quite justified.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lissa Notreallywolf

    Hilary Mantel is my current favorite author. I loved Fludd for it's subtle searching out of the failure of Vatican II to grant corporate or personal renovation to the institution. This is another book with religious critique on the side of Protestant (?) missionaries returned from South Africa. The book is excellent in describing the mixed motives that sent Ralph and Anna to a land where the complexities outstripped their ability to comprehend, and required more prudence than their effort to hel Hilary Mantel is my current favorite author. I loved Fludd for it's subtle searching out of the failure of Vatican II to grant corporate or personal renovation to the institution. This is another book with religious critique on the side of Protestant (?) missionaries returned from South Africa. The book is excellent in describing the mixed motives that sent Ralph and Anna to a land where the complexities outstripped their ability to comprehend, and required more prudence than their effort to help would permit. But all this and the nightmare that followed are in the past, divulged in tiny pieces throughout this family dynamics that follow in England. This is a wonderful psychological description of how denial on the parental level often produces distortions in their children who sense the unarticulated truths of their parents. One example less evident than perhaps the main plot line indicates is the fact that the Victorian father of Ralph and Anna, who forbid his son to study paleontology because it supported Darwin is the father of two children who could not keep from adulterous relationships. I found all of the characters sympathetic, and very much understood the draw of the small holding by the sea as an anchor for the two men who found themselves adrift. I liked the doctor who was humane enough to give a physical excuse to her sister in law, who truly did suffer heart trouble of an invisible nature. It's a great novel, especially in its descriptions of grief.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ken Vaughan

    One of the finest novels I have ever read. It follows the lives of Anna and Ralph Eldred, newly married and off to South Africa as lay missionaries. Apartheid is at its height, and the couple runs afoul of the authorities. They are deported to neighbouring Beuchuanaland, where an event of almost unimaginable horrow sees them return to England where Ralph takes over the running of a chartitable trust founded by his father. Their lives, though dedicated to good deeds, are tainted by the memory of One of the finest novels I have ever read. It follows the lives of Anna and Ralph Eldred, newly married and off to South Africa as lay missionaries. Apartheid is at its height, and the couple runs afoul of the authorities. They are deported to neighbouring Beuchuanaland, where an event of almost unimaginable horrow sees them return to England where Ralph takes over the running of a chartitable trust founded by his father. Their lives, though dedicated to good deeds, are tainted by the memory of their time in Africa and a determination to repress the impact of their experiences. The book contains the great themes of faith, loss, forgiveness and the illusive nature of redemption. The characters leap off the page, and even the minor characters - Ralphs sister Emma, the Eldred children, and a troubled young woman who comes to stay in the Eldred home - are given significant parts to play. I loved the dialoge, especially between the Eldred children, for its humour and wit. I read this book three times (the last time for a book club meeting) and found new layers of meaning and enjoyment each time. Very highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Streever

    I absolutely loved this book: a family in England dedicated to doing good is touched by evil while working in Africa as missionaries 20 years ago, and the ways that the experience hang over and influence their family through grief, healing, and love. The characterizations of the children, their parents, and the ways they interact with each other were perfect and remarkably authentic. The subtleties are too beautiful to be missed, including one line in the last pages which brings us back around to I absolutely loved this book: a family in England dedicated to doing good is touched by evil while working in Africa as missionaries 20 years ago, and the ways that the experience hang over and influence their family through grief, healing, and love. The characterizations of the children, their parents, and the ways they interact with each other were perfect and remarkably authentic. The subtleties are too beautiful to be missed, including one line in the last pages which brings us back around to a much earlier comment made by one of the characters and dispels any ambiguity about the novels ending. A really incredible book, Mantel uses beautiful prose sparingly, giving us poetic depictions of places and people in short and concise sentences.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    As ever a great novel from Mantel. It starts slowly as a family-ish saga about a vaguely churchy family in Norfolk. The parents had been missionaries in Africa...gradually the story gets darker as secrets are revealed. This novel took me by surprise when it became a real page turner about halfway through. So well written, although I can't quite agree with the description of 'dark humour'. Highly recommended. As ever a great novel from Mantel. It starts slowly as a family-ish saga about a vaguely churchy family in Norfolk. The parents had been missionaries in Africa...gradually the story gets darker as secrets are revealed. This novel took me by surprise when it became a real page turner about halfway through. So well written, although I can't quite agree with the description of 'dark humour'. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ali علی

    I was sceptical at the start but the writing style captivated me and didn't let me go until I was finished. I was sceptical at the start but the writing style captivated me and didn't let me go until I was finished.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Don't judge a book by its cover - the adage applies to people too. In this contemporary world of social media, almost everyone is a self-styled social expert quick to judge and criticise. Be careful! As Hilary Mantel illustrates in this book, we don't know what is informing others' behaviour. Don't judge a book by its cover - the adage applies to people too. In this contemporary world of social media, almost everyone is a self-styled social expert quick to judge and criticise. Be careful! As Hilary Mantel illustrates in this book, we don't know what is informing others' behaviour.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    1994. Set partly in England [1980], partly in South Africa [early 1960s?] Can't think why it took me so long to read one of Mantel's novels. For years I have enjoyed reading her book reviews in LRB. I have her memoirs and new novels on my to-read list. Anyway, I already knew from the book reviews that she writes very very well, and there are lots of quotable sentences in this book. The story - or maybe stories - is gripping. We see into several characters' lives. The South Africa part is fascinating 1994. Set partly in England [1980], partly in South Africa [early 1960s?] Can't think why it took me so long to read one of Mantel's novels. For years I have enjoyed reading her book reviews in LRB. I have her memoirs and new novels on my to-read list. Anyway, I already knew from the book reviews that she writes very very well, and there are lots of quotable sentences in this book. The story - or maybe stories - is gripping. We see into several characters' lives. The South Africa part is fascinating. In few words we feel the frustration of the young English missionaries trying to help out in a black town outside a city, just a few years after Apartheid became enshrined in law. E.g. it is said a new law forbids teaching any black child more than 2 years. Through an Afrikaner doctor [who regularly gets roughed up by the police] we get a glimpse of some locals' preference for traditional healing. [It sounded quite similar to the beliefs of the New Guinea community described in a study I once edited.] Refreshing to have teenagers and young university students on the list of characters [these are children of the main characters, Anna and Ralph, the missionaries]. Also the unmarried sister who is a doctor plays an interesting role in the book. Extramarital affairs are part of the plot, though there is lots lots more. A homeless shelter in London, later housing mainly young drug addicts. Ralph is described as having great kindness, but that this is non-discriminating, it is towards everyone, his wife and children no more than others. After we hear about the way his parents treated him as a child, we don't wonder that he is emotionally abnormal. QUOTE After returning to England, "He made a discovery, common to those who expatriate themselves and then return: that when he and Anna went abroad they had ceased to be regarded as real people. Out of sight, out of mind. Nobody wanted to hear anything about Africa." 252 Emma the doctor says, "People are very ignorant and cruel, and they won't accept mental suffering as an excuse to avoid anything. They say, 'Pull yourself together.' But they'll respect a heart complaint. A heart complaint is very respectable indeed." 257 ... Emma thinks to herself: "That's what men do, keep going. Often at the expense of the people around them. They shout at the news on the television and call politicians fools -- that's a release for them. They lose their temper and hit people, and are admired for doing it. They sit on committees, or enforce laws. Whatever is wrong inside them they project to the outside, they find somebody out there to stick the blame on. But women -- women turn inwards. Men make decisions, and women fall ill." 257

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tiah

    I see another reader (John) on goodreads wrote something akin to 'Another great book that is difficult to recommend.' How true. Because this is a brilliant book, that will stick with me for years. It is powerful, on so many levels. Discussions around tables could go on for hours on the themes and ideas being toyed and teased. Yet, with quiet family drama, Mantel pokes at so much emotion, slithering in and striking where it hurts the most - it isn't exactly the type of book you wrap up and stick I see another reader (John) on goodreads wrote something akin to 'Another great book that is difficult to recommend.' How true. Because this is a brilliant book, that will stick with me for years. It is powerful, on so many levels. Discussions around tables could go on for hours on the themes and ideas being toyed and teased. Yet, with quiet family drama, Mantel pokes at so much emotion, slithering in and striking where it hurts the most - it isn't exactly the type of book you wrap up and stick under the Christmas tree for your unsuspecting fellow bookworm. I am very GLAD I did not know how emotionally challenging the book would be or I probably would have avoided it, given my current mental state. Nor can I say it did anything positive to said mental state. However, the issues - religion, goodness, right / wrong, family mechanics, justice (or lack of), poverty, privilege - she nails many issues that are constantly on my mind when tackling my own work. I didn't feel so much jealousy or envy, more: this is how its done. Wondering if it deserved a small applause. A few places had me wondering if she would have used the same words / phrases now. Language of South African poverty and privilege has evolved and there still smacks of bit of colonialism attitude in some of the scenes. Yet, that may have been done on purpose to reflect the characters inner struggles with their own situation and prejudices and have nothing to do with Mantel's own views.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sam8cn

    The book "A change of climate", is a great story of human nature and sorrow. The book is the equivalent of a sitcom, taking place mostly at the household of the main family with occasional glance at the past. It drives deep into the question of "how much grief and sorrow can someone endure emotionally". Ralph and Anna Eldred are a recently married civilized couple in 19th century england. They are proper christian loving citizens and are ready to do their part in the world. They go to South Afri The book "A change of climate", is a great story of human nature and sorrow. The book is the equivalent of a sitcom, taking place mostly at the household of the main family with occasional glance at the past. It drives deep into the question of "how much grief and sorrow can someone endure emotionally". Ralph and Anna Eldred are a recently married civilized couple in 19th century england. They are proper christian loving citizens and are ready to do their part in the world. They go to South Africa to work as missionaries during Apartheid and see and experience abhorrent and unspeakable acts of human nature that they shield from their three children growing up. Finally, after a nightmarish act of cruelty done upon them which no mother would be able to endure, Ralph and Anna go back to England intent on starting over. They start a family and live quiet ordinary lives until their children are all but grown up. Then, in the climax, Ralph has been caught cheating on Anna and their whole predictable world that they set up after coming back from africa comes crashing down. Anna doesn't know if she can feel emotion any more since so much injustice and sin has been done against her. Their life is a quilt filled with patches and their early history comes back to haunt them. This story is one worthy of much praise and an amazing book overall.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pj

    A ravishing and cleverly structured novel which sustains its tensions until the very last page. The sections set in South Africa are as gripping and exciting as the best of thrillers. The sections set in Norfolk radiate with searing and often humorous insights into family life. Mantel is brilliant with dialogue. This is a novel about secrets – how it’s not so much us who keep secrets but how secrets keep us, and how they “wear us away, from the inside out”. It’s also a novel about faith, how ill A ravishing and cleverly structured novel which sustains its tensions until the very last page. The sections set in South Africa are as gripping and exciting as the best of thrillers. The sections set in Norfolk radiate with searing and often humorous insights into family life. Mantel is brilliant with dialogue. This is a novel about secrets – how it’s not so much us who keep secrets but how secrets keep us, and how they “wear us away, from the inside out”. It’s also a novel about faith, how illusory, self-serving and misguided it can be. And about the difficulties of forgiveness. The outline of the plot as follows: Ralph and Anna Eldred live in the big Red House in Norfolk, raising their four children and devoting their lives to charity. The constant flood of “good souls and sad cases”, children plucked from the squalor of East London streets for a breath of countryside air, hides the growing crisis in their own family, the disillusionment of their children, the fissures in their marriage. Memories of their time as missionaries in South Africa and Botswana, of the terrible African tragedies that have shaped the rest of their lives, refuse to be put to rest and threaten to destroy the fragile peace they have built for themselves and their children.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mirren Jones

    I've been put off Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies both by their length and my perception that they will be hard going. And I'm not really up for that at the end of a busy day at work. However, I don't feel justified in writing off the writer so lauded by her peers without at least accessing some of her work. So I tried 'A Change of Climate'. It's many years old - 20 at least. No doubt her craft has developed since then - but what a book. It's fresh and challenging, interesting and intriguing, I've been put off Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies both by their length and my perception that they will be hard going. And I'm not really up for that at the end of a busy day at work. However, I don't feel justified in writing off the writer so lauded by her peers without at least accessing some of her work. So I tried 'A Change of Climate'. It's many years old - 20 at least. No doubt her craft has developed since then - but what a book. It's fresh and challenging, interesting and intriguing, and without cliche in its subject matter and style. I feel quite prepared to venture into historical territory now - but it may need to wait for a clear head, uninterrupted time and a warm breeze. (Mirren)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Profoundly boring with very little actual action. Detailed descriptions of scenes that are completely uninteresting and have no bearing on the eventual plot. You are half-way into the book before things start making sense. Too many people, too much jumping back and forth in time. Maybe it's me, I seem to give every book I read 2 stars these days. But I could never get into this one, and in the end just skimmed through the last 200 pages to get it all over with. This was my first Hilary Mantel, I Profoundly boring with very little actual action. Detailed descriptions of scenes that are completely uninteresting and have no bearing on the eventual plot. You are half-way into the book before things start making sense. Too many people, too much jumping back and forth in time. Maybe it's me, I seem to give every book I read 2 stars these days. But I could never get into this one, and in the end just skimmed through the last 200 pages to get it all over with. This was my first Hilary Mantel, I really hope the Cromwell Trilogy will be better!

  22. 5 out of 5

    WndyJW

    I love Hilary Mantel. This story of Ralph and Anna, "professional Christians" is a study of love, charity, evil, good, bad, and of our human efforts at understanding our own intentions. It is not, as the cover says, a first-rate thriller, although there is something that casts a shadow of this family, a tragic event, that the reader doesn't learn of until much later in the book. The pace of the story is steady, the characters so real I can see them. If asked now I would say my favorite writer is I love Hilary Mantel. This story of Ralph and Anna, "professional Christians" is a study of love, charity, evil, good, bad, and of our human efforts at understanding our own intentions. It is not, as the cover says, a first-rate thriller, although there is something that casts a shadow of this family, a tragic event, that the reader doesn't learn of until much later in the book. The pace of the story is steady, the characters so real I can see them. If asked now I would say my favorite writer is Hilary Mantel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Fulmer

    This is somewhat of a study of the subtlety of human nature where there is sometimes a mistake even in the direction of doing good, where white folks (in Boer South Africa) mistreat blacks and where blacks there mistreat white folks (the English mission teacher couple of this book). It also could be read as a lesson on how difficult it is to escape your parents no matter how much you abhor their theological tyranny.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I had the impression this was a book I disliked after I first read it, in the late 1990s, enough to dissuade me from reading any others until 'Wolf Hall' became irresistible. After a second read I truly wonder why. So powerful, so many aching emotions, so well-told and described. Lives intertwine but what happens to both are at the same time are so painfully separately experienced. This is a study of how people react to appalling tragedy, desperate dailiness and a total lack of empathy. I had the impression this was a book I disliked after I first read it, in the late 1990s, enough to dissuade me from reading any others until 'Wolf Hall' became irresistible. After a second read I truly wonder why. So powerful, so many aching emotions, so well-told and described. Lives intertwine but what happens to both are at the same time are so painfully separately experienced. This is a study of how people react to appalling tragedy, desperate dailiness and a total lack of empathy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Newcomb

    Near perfect novel, beautifully written, full of pathos and energy and life. Nobody is better at drawing a character than Hilary. A mysterious tragedy affects the lives of so many people that come into contact with it. Once the tragedy is uncovered the behaviour is explained. I may read it through again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    A beautiful, painful book. I'm not sure I would pick it up to read again if I knew how painful it would be to read it--but I'm glad I read it. (If that makes sense.) Not for the faint of heart. It hurts. But it's so well-written and so real. A beautiful, painful book. I'm not sure I would pick it up to read again if I knew how painful it would be to read it--but I'm glad I read it. (If that makes sense.) Not for the faint of heart. It hurts. But it's so well-written and so real.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    A great novel about ordinary and extraordinary sorrows and about the backdrop of landscapes and climates against which our lives take place and that at times weave themselves into the very fabric of what happens to us.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    beautifully written but a really tough read because elements of the story are both horrifying and heart-breaking

  29. 4 out of 5

    Flapper72

    Fantastic. I have just read the Tudor trilogy of Mantel's and enjoyed them all. I had read Mantel's books before these and had forgotten quite how amazing I had found them. This is, by far, the most amazing book I have read for some time. I think you'll think I'm a broken record and I am rather like a small child; the most recent book I've read is my favourite but this really is amazing. All of the characters are interesting, each far from perfect having their flaws and although there are facets Fantastic. I have just read the Tudor trilogy of Mantel's and enjoyed them all. I had read Mantel's books before these and had forgotten quite how amazing I had found them. This is, by far, the most amazing book I have read for some time. I think you'll think I'm a broken record and I am rather like a small child; the most recent book I've read is my favourite but this really is amazing. All of the characters are interesting, each far from perfect having their flaws and although there are facets of the characters that I didn't like I found I was able to understand why the people behaved as they had. A young couple get married and end up, almost as an escape route, as missionaries in Africa. Probably not really for a religious reason - just way of escape and almost in a patronising, middle class white way. Life is awful. They come back to the UK and we hear about how part one of their life, in Africa, impacts upon all of their lives back in the UK as what might just be perceived as a patronising, condescending, perfect, charitable middle class family. Obvious, it's not quite so. All of their actions and behaviours there are as a result of South Africa. Amazing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Bibbings

    Don't expect Wolf Hall! This is set in rather more modern times, with a non-clergy missionary family. Their time has partly been spent in South Africa in apartheid days, where they suffer for being involved with protesters, and Botswana, where a tragedy takes place that affects Anna the wife for the rest of her days. Set between two different time frames and between Southern Africa and Norfolk, this book looks at the effects one single event can have on the lives of a whole family. The gentle, i Don't expect Wolf Hall! This is set in rather more modern times, with a non-clergy missionary family. Their time has partly been spent in South Africa in apartheid days, where they suffer for being involved with protesters, and Botswana, where a tragedy takes place that affects Anna the wife for the rest of her days. Set between two different time frames and between Southern Africa and Norfolk, this book looks at the effects one single event can have on the lives of a whole family. The gentle, ineffectual Ralph, drawn into a life not of his choosing by family who decide the course of his life, his wife Anna, and their children, are well drawn. The story closes in a kind of limbo - we don't know how things will work out. Mantel says this was the hardest book she ever wrote, and I can believe it - there's a grimness to the story and a sense of inevitability as the events in Norfolk unfold.

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