Oh god. Where do I even begin? Lots of reviewers complained they didn't know where the book was going. Well, I didn't know either, but I thought it was a good thing. Don't you just love when you don't know where the book is going?
'Beyond Black' was going in all sorts of directions at once. It was a story about Alison, a medium, who can see and talk to ghosts and also happens to be very fat. It was a story about her obnoxious, nasty assistant cum manager (who weirdly reminded me of my very own assistant) and their very toxic friendship. It was a story of the world of professional psychics, broken childhood, and some real or metaphorical (depending on how cynical you are) ghosts haunting Alison. It was also a story about mental illness. There were so many different layers to this book, I am actually considering re-reading it (and I hardly ever do anything like that, because you know, so many books, so little time, etc.).
Be warned, this book is dark, drab, grim and depressing. People are dreary, English suburbs are bleak, even food is vapid. Redemption seems an abstract and improbable concept and we only have bits of black humour to cheer us up. Basically, it reads like a Polish book.
At the same time this book is beautiful. Mantel can write. Every paragraph is a little masterpiece.
The only thing that confused me were the abrupt changes of POV between Alison and her haughty assistant Colette.