The Giant, O'Brien: A Novel

Front Cover
Macmillan, Oct 6, 1998 - Fiction - 192 pages
The year is 1782; the place, London: the center of science and commerce, home to the newly rich and magnet to the desperately poor. Among the latter is the Giant, O'Brien, a freak of nature, a man of song and story who trusts in the old myths, in Irish kings and fairies. He has come to exhibit his size for money. He has, he soon finds, come to die. His opposite is a man of science, a society surgeon, the famed anatomist John Hunter, employer to a legion of grave robbers. He lusts after the Giant's corpse. Coin is offered. The Giant refuses. He will be buried, he will assume his throne in heaven. But money changes hands as friends are bribed. The Giant sickens, dies. Today, his bones may be seen by any curious stranger who visits the Huntarian Museum in London, part of the Royal College of Surgeons. Hailed as "an acute observer, fearless in exploring difficult subjects" (The Wall Street Journal), Mantel here tells of the fated convergence of two worlds--Ireland and England, poetry and science--on the cusp of a new century. As belief wrestles knowledge, so The Giant, O'Brien calls to us from a fork in the road. It is a tale of its time, a timeless tale.
 

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User Review  - bodachliath - LibraryThing

An intriguing mixture of fact and fantasy. Unlike the Cromwell novels and A Place of Greater Safety, the need for invention is clear here. Although the Irish giant Charles Byrne and the surgeon John ... Read full review

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User Review  - passion4reading - LibraryThing

Charles O'Brien, a gentle Irish giant with the soul of a poet, arrives in London with his agent and his band of followers to be exhibited among the better-off citizens. One who comes to the see him ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

one
3
two
19
three
21
four
25
five
56
six
62
seven
80
eight
102
nine
121
ten
138
eleven
152
twelve
177
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About the author (1998)

Hilary Mantel is the author of seven previous novels, including Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (Owl Books, 0-8050-5203-8), An Experiment in Love (Owl Books, 0-8050-5202-X), and A Change of Climate (Owl Books, 0-8050-5205-4). She also wrote A Place of Greater Safety. Winner of the Hawthornden Prize, she lives in England.

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