Vacant Possession and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
CDN$ 16.13
FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25.
Usually ships within 3 to 6 weeks.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Vacant Possession Paperback – Aug 31 2010


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
Paperback, Aug 31 2010
CDN$ 16.13
CDN$ 5.75 CDN$ 0.01

Best Books of 2014
Unruly Places, Alastair Bonnett’s tour of the world’s most unlikely micro-nations, moving villages, secret cities, and no man’s lands, is our #1 pick for 2014. See all

Frequently Bought Together

Vacant Possession + Every Day Is Mother's Day + Experiment In Love
Price For All Three: CDN$ 43.89

Some of these items ship sooner than the others.


Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought



Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA; Reprint edition (Aug. 31 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031266804X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312668044
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #154,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A rundown, and possibly haunted, Victorian house takes center stage in these back-to-back black comedies, written by British novelist Mantel (The Giant, O'Brien) with a distinct Rendellian flavor. In the first story, set in the mid-Seventies, Evelyn Axon, a terrorized, guilt-ridden widow, lives with her dull-witted daughter, Muriel. Into their lives comes the nettlesome social service bureaucracy, primarily in the person of Isabel Field, the last in a long series of social workers assigned to their case. Isabel has problems of her own, though, the main one being a stagnating affair with Colin Sydney, a married man she has met in an evening class on creative writing. Muriel has been encouraged to participate in weekly workshops for the mentally handicapped at the local community center, but she eludes both her mother and her case workers and manages to get herself pregnant. All these lives intersect at the novel's bizarre conclusion, as Evelyn dies, Muriel is institutionalized, and Colin Sydney's family take up residence in the Axons' house. The second novel opens ten years later as Muriel is caught up in the Eighties trend to deinstitutionalize the mentally challenged. Out on the streets once more, she knowingly adopts multiple personas with the misguided intention of exacting revenge on those she believes have wronged her, principally Isabel Field and Colin Sydney. Slowly, all these entangled lives begin to come undone. Like her fellow Brits Rose Tremain and Penelope Fitzgerald, Mantel continually produces novels that chart fresh terrain and derive from a wellspring of creative imagination. These two early novels herald the promise of the rich and varied literary career that followed. Recommended for most public libraries.
-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
0
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phil Moores on Dec 26 2001
Format: Paperback
I don't think I've ever known a book with such misleading cover blurb. If anyone can "lie back and laugh yourself silly" while reading this, as the UK edition proclaims, I'd like to meet them. Yes it's a satire that hits all its targets, yes it involves situations and characters that are bigger and more grotesque than would occur in real life, but these characters are so sympathetically drawn that you feel for them deeply in their lives, hamstrung as they are by circumstance, coincidence and those family ties that bind. The book is a abject potrayal of Thoreau's dictum that most men (and women) lead lives of quiet desperation. If you can laugh yourself silly at that, and I don't belive Mantel intends you to, perhaps you can laugh at all human suffering. The intricately laid out plot reels you in like a thriller, giving hints but never spoiling the twists. I found this book immensely satisfying and Mantel is a fine writer (as I also know from 'Fludd' and 'A Change of Climate') whose work I intend to read more of.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Paperback
One doesn't have to have read Martel's previous novel featuring these unsavory characters to enjoy (?) its successor. What a nasty piece of work is our Muriel Axton! Admittedly, her horrendous upbringing by a lunatic mother gives her meager brain sufficient cause to seek sadistic revenge upon those she sees to be her enemies, but how fortuitous it is that fate so often cooperates with her! Martel is positively brilliant at keeping the convoluted plot going full pace at all times --the reader is never absolutely certain as to just what will happen, but knows that whatever does, it will not be pleasant. The mordant wit is most enjoyable to those of us who appreciate such nice touches! Regardless of the genre she chooses, Martel is a gifted writer and a pleasure to read.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Life just arranges itself, usually for the worst and chance is not blind at all." Aug. 31 2010
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In 1980s England, it is ten years after the shocking denouement in Every Day is Mother's Day, the characters having moved on with their lives. (While it isn't necessary to read the prior novel, it adds historical context- and menace- to this one.) No longer beleaguered by the spirits who haunted her mother, Evelyn, a medium, the hulking, crafty Muriel is a product of her environment, properly institutionalized for the last few years. Evelyn's death has seemingly put an end to the disturbing case of a mother and daughter living in isolation, successfully avoiding the social workers assigned to them. The other peripheral characters have moved on with their individual lives, unconcerned with the fate of Muriel Axon, "that reclusive slab of a woman".

Social worker Isabel Field, traumatized by her short but violent involvement with the Axon's, has married, but is still plagued by self-doubt and depression, unable to give her husband a child. The brief distraction of her affair with married schoolteacher Colin Sidney in the `70s met a predictable end with the pregnancy of Colin's wife, Sylvia, the social worker just another victim of the folly of loving a married man. Currently, Isabel derives more comfort from the bottle than her husband. For his part, Colin clings to the memories of his affair with Isabel as a respite from Sylvia's incessant carping about their unruly children and the career she might have had. With the impending arrival of their fourth child, the Sidney's have moved house, snapping up the Axon residence as a bargain, next door to Colin's unmarried sister, Florence.

Muriel is the star of the piece, an enigmatic creature whose cunning enables her to escape the tangled bureaucracy of the social welfare system. Ingenious in reentering the world without the taint of her past, Muriel is set on revenge with very specific targets in mind. Her personality forged by a crippling childhood and hostile mother, this single-minded gorgon embodies the dark side of human nature, her stunted emotional growth disguised by an ungainly body, unexpectedly delighted at the coincidences that abet her mission. And while family entanglements baffle both Isabel and the Sidney's, each character plays a part in the final drama, the outcome turning on the erratic behaviors of those who exist on society's margins and the odd coincidence.

Mantel brilliantly contrasts middle-class life and the deceits born of mental illness and chronic institutionalization, from Muriel's crafty assault on the past to Isabel Field's descent into alcoholism, Colin's chronic ineptitude and Sylvia's escalating demands for attention. Although Every Day is Mother's Day and Vacant Possession are separate novels, I imagine them combined into one chilling tale, a seamless narrative of dysfunction and retribution, where "blind chance... could catch you a painful blow with her white cane". Luan Gaines/2010.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Laugh as things fall apart. Dec 26 2001
By Phil Moores - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I don't think I've ever known a book with such misleading cover blurb. If anyone can "lie back and laugh yourself silly" while reading this, as the UK edition proclaims, I'd like to meet them. Yes it's a satire that hits all its targets, yes it involves situations and characters that are bigger and more grotesque than would occur in real life, but these characters are so sympathetically drawn that you feel for them deeply in their lives, hamstrung as they are by circumstance, coincidence and those family ties that bind. The book is a abject potrayal of Thoreau's dictum that most men (and women) lead lives of quiet desperation. If you can laugh yourself silly at that, and I don't belive Mantel intends you to, perhaps you can laugh at all human suffering. The intricately laid out plot reels you in like a thriller, giving hints but never spoiling the twists. I found this book immensely satisfying and Mantel is a fine writer (as I also know from 'Fludd' and 'A Change of Climate') whose work I intend to read more of.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
black humor at its best July 26 2000
By Judith Bradley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One doesn't have to have read Martel's previous novel featuring these unsavory characters to enjoy (?) its successor. What a nasty piece of work is our Muriel Axton! Admittedly, her horrendous upbringing by a lunatic mother gives her meager brain sufficient cause to seek sadistic revenge upon those she sees to be her enemies, but how fortuitous it is that fate so often cooperates with her! Martel is positively brilliant at keeping the convoluted plot going full pace at all times --the reader is never absolutely certain as to just what will happen, but knows that whatever does, it will not be pleasant. The mordant wit is most enjoyable to those of us who appreciate such nice touches! Regardless of the genre she chooses, Martel is a gifted writer and a pleasure to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Humans certainly are a messy species of animal Nov. 16 2014
By C. B Collins Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mantel expands the themes and characters she introduces in her book Every Day is Mother’s Day in this sequel that outshines the first book. It is actually difficult to characterize this book. I was reminded of Honore Balzac’s classic novel Cousin Bette, where revenge is aided by human weakness, frailty, and coincidence. Muriel Axon is a large fat woman who lived a terrible life under her insane mother in Every Day is Mother’s Day. She was kept ignorant, taught to play the role of a mentally retarded person, and yet was probably of normal intelligence. She is institutionalized for 10 years but is finally released during the era of Margaret Thatcher when mental patients were released back into communities so as to decrease the population of institutions and reduce tax payer costs. Mantel mentions this dynamic but does not dwell here since her goal is to show the human interactions rather than to make any political statements. As in Balzac’s Cousin Bette, revenge against those that have done wrong is catalyzed and enhanced by the foolishness of the human situation which does most of the work of revenge. Muriel Axon seeks revenge against her social worker, Isabel Field, as well as Isabel’s secretly perverted father who has sex in the park with underage runaway youth. She also seeks revenge against Isabel’s lover Colin Sidney who rescues Isabel from the Axon house in the previous novel, as well as against the entire Sidney family that lived next door to the Axon’s.

Muriel seeks her revenge by taking on two roles, that of poor Mrs. Wilmot, a night janitor at St. Matthew’s hospital where perverse Mr. Fields and demented Mrs. Sidney are both hospitalized. She also takes on the role of Lizzie Blank, a housekeeper for the Sidney family, which allows her access into the home of those she wishes to destroy. The tempo of the novel gradually increases until the final chapters are almost impossible to put down.

The outrageous coincidences and inter-relationships of the characters was handled masterfully in this novel, reminding me of Iris Murdoch’s first comic novel, Under the Net. The book has been described as English black humor. It is more than that since the grim black humor aspects of the novel are overlaid with the existential crisis of human existence, as exemplified in the character of Colin Sidney, trapped in a world where we have very little control over the actions of those around us and yet we are very much subject to the punishments and consequences that such actions entail. Alcoholism, thwarted lust, unplanned teenage pregnancy, the fragility of old age, delinquency, and mental illness twirl through this narrative. In the end Mantel presents a view that we cannot save anyone else from their folly, even ourselves and that revenge is made most sweet when the victims prepare their own traps. I found very little in the book that I would describe as funny, but I did find masterful writing in a multilayered, engaging, convoluted and bleak world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Good Into to Mantel Nov. 11 2012
By Maryann Kowalczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Hilary Mantel is an amazing writer. No more proof needed than "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies", both of which got her the Man Booker Prize. I decided to read all of her earlier work and this was where I started. One of the things is that, if you can manage it, read her books aloud. Or maybe purchase audio editions, because the vocabulary sings and her work has a pace that is mesmerising. I recommend.


Feedback