Historical Fiction

Books like The Giant, O'Brien

The Giant, O'Brien

2007, Hilary Mantel

The Giant, O'Brien is a novel by Hilary Mantel, published in 1998. It is a fictionalised account of Irish giant Charles Byrne (O'Brien) and Scottish surgeon John Hunter.

Set mainly in the 1780s it tells of O'Brien and his companions as they decide to escape the poverty of Ireland to seek their fortune in London. O'Brien is portrayed as a teller of folk tales and as a poet who aims to save enough money to rebuild the ruined Mulroney's Tavern where as a youth he learned to be a storyteller. In contrast, John Hunter is obsessed with science; with an insatiable desire to experiment on both the living and the dead, both man and animals; employing body-snatchers to supply his needs. When he hears of O'Brien's arrival in London, Hunter determines to obtain his body. Ominously O'Brien is still growing and it appears Hunter may not have too long to wait.

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