The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel.
Obviously this title grabs the attention but I think this titular story is the least satisfactory and plausible of the whole collection of short stories. Others stay in the mind long after you have finished them such as the autobiographical (?) tale Sorry To Disturb, which offers an insight into the everyday restrictions of life for women in Saudi, and Mantel’s obviously disturbed state of mind whilst living there.
Also autobiographical was How Shall I Know You? with its depiction of the seedy guest house and the small, disabled, uncomplaining girl sentenced to work there. And Mantel’s realisation that the pity she had felt for the girl, was echoed later by someone’s pity for her.
Many of the tales are bleak, with a pervading sense of menace just round the corner. Winter Break with its play of words on ‘kid’ was one such, as was Comma. Also harrowing was The Heart Fails Without Warning in showing the relentless decline into anorexia of one sister through the viewpoint of the other. But all the stories are stretching and shot through with Mantel’s acute observations, memorable details and her ability to create atmosphere and character in a few choice sentences.