Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel


A fictionalised biography documenting the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII.

❚ “Wolf Hall is primarily about Thomas Cromwell who in real life was a disliked man who worked for King Henry. He orchestrated many of his plans and wishes, such as divorces and political decisions such as the break with Rome and the dissolution of monasteries.

In this book Mantel has brought the man to life, giving him a fictional upbringing and attributes both good and bad to made him appealing to readers. The other real life figures of the time are also brought to life and for Tudor fans I’m sure this is a huge drawcard.

However, because I know next to nothing about English royalty history or the Tudor period, I found this book difficult to read or enjoy. The vast number of characters, who were often referred to by multiple names, and the density of the occurrences in the English courts, politics and history was quite frankly overwhelming.

I have no doubt Mantel is a formidable researcher and writer and has contributed to the history books with the writing of this novel. But I could not keep up with this one myself.” – Rachel

But it is no use to justify yourself. It is no good to explain. It is weak to be anecdotal. It is wise to conceal the past even if there is nothing to conceal. 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. It is the absence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires.

❚ “The sheer number of characters and confusingly written passages make for a frustrating read. I usually enjoy historical fiction but this story was way too labourious. I only finished it because I didn’t want to let my bookclub friends down and, because it was one of the few books I bought, I had a financial incentive to make the most of it!” – Jo

Published 2009
Fourth Estate
672 pages

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