Friday, 30 April 2010

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel * * * * *


Henry VIII, with his determination to annul his first marriage and marry Anne Boleyn, has been the hero/villain of many historical novels ( and I've read quite a few of them). Hilary Mantel presents these events to us through the eyes of his adviser Thomas Cromwell, a man that historian David Starkey describes as "Alastair Campbell with an axe".
It reconstructs the rise of Thomas Cromwell from his humble beginnings as blacksmiths son, assistant to cardinal Wolsey to become a trusted adviser to Henry VIII ending as the balance of power starts to shift towards the Seymour family.

Any historical novel is up against the problem of the reader knowing what is going to happen, but there is much more than plot to this book. Mantel brings Tudor England to life - from courtiers to kitchen boys, ladies in waiting to the women gossiping at the market - and creates living breathing people of historical characters as diverse as Cromwell, HenryVIII, Thomas Moore, Anne Boleyn and shy, mouse-like Jane Seymour.

It's not necessarily a book that will grab you on page one. It takes time to get inside a person's head, to recreate an almost tangible world and that is what Hilary Mantel achieves.
Read it slowly, savour it, lap up the atmosphere and you'll find yourself getting inside Thomas Cromwell's head.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Fourth Estate
Genre - adult fiction, historical

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