But Cromwell — largely by virtue of the brain-busting non-specific third person POV that Mantel uses to bring us inside his head — is not a sociopath. How do you write about Henry VIII without being camp or breathless or making him do something clunkily non-stereotypical? But there is none. Indeed, Wolf Hall is certain to be the most challenging book I read this year and the most active reading experience I've had in quite some time.
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View all 79 comments. May I re-think that, based on a comment by another reader. It is the era that Mantel brings to life. Contact us for rights and issues inquiries. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Why, twist, turn, beg, borrow, steal, threaten, intimidate, and murder until you get your way.
I suspect it is one of the most popular periods to study in English history with its cast of colourful characters, intrigues, passions, extremes, extravagances, important political and religious changes and mind-blowingly violent events. Henry calls him "as cunning as a bag of serpents" to his face. This book doesn't start easy. Several possibilities but in the end, often the he is Cromwell himself.
The Catholic Church even canonized him after his execution. Speaking of which, the author relies heavily on the pronoun "he" and since there were frequently at least 2 men in each scene, this reader was often unsure which he was the right he.
I loved Wolf Hall. In our last glimpse of him, Cromwell's ascendancy endures. At the height of his prominence at court, Cromwell was painted by the famous portraitist Hans Holbein the same painter that allegedly painted the ill-fated Anne Boleynand in his portrait, Cromwell appears fat, shifty-eyed and unappealing. Is this a problem? In this way Wolf Hall could be labelled a political thriller. Making characters of all these people is, of course, a big risk.
But there is none.
Colin Burrow reviews ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel · LRB 30 April
One of the most interesting things about history is thinking about perspective. He even prompts his disappointing son Gregory to wonder what would happen if the king and Anne Boleyn died, and to recognise that Mary might one day be queen.
Like modern thrillers with blasts from the past? Her characters are fully realized, from queens to back alley mercenaries-turned errand boys and everyone in between. Fans of historical fiction--or great writing--should howl with delight.
This gives him the heartlessness to succeed in the backstabbing world of Tudor politics; it gives him the nonchalance to betray and to use people as he climbs the social ladder. Even so, many peripheral characters are not in the list, and when they are their names are not used in a helpful way.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – review
If readers have any appetite left for protracted historical fiction, Sharon Kay Penman and Philippa Gregory will surely sate it. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. Henry the Eighth was not supposed to be king. Over two decades, she has gained a reputation as an elegant anatomiser of malevolence and cruelty. Unfortunately I gave up on this book at page A man's power is in the half-light, in the half-seen movements of his hand and the unguessed-at expression of his face.
And with that I perceived the tears upon his cheeks. View all 32 comments. Log In Register for Online Access.
The 3 stars are due to this mix of feelings. But Mantel's use of punctuation leaves a lot to be desired.