My rating: 5 of 5 starsView all my reviewsWinner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize.As I wait and wait and wait with bated breath for the third book of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantel, I’ve chosen to repost my review of the first book, Wolf Hall. (Previously posted in my now-defunct blog, “The Reading Corner”)
It took me a while longer to read Wolf Hall than I expected, even though I got the large print, but that certainly didn’t take away any of my appreciation for this book. This was Thomas Cromwell’s story; one of this self-made man, who rose to the court to become one of King Henry VIII’s most trusted and envied advisers. I had sat it down for a while at times – I got a wee bit bored with Henry’s rogue desires and antics all in the name of marrying Anne Boleyn, annulling his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, and thus disregarding the existence of the Church (not like it’s never been heard before) – yet, Mantel’s personification of Thomas Cromwell continued to pull me back and I’m so glad she did. She made that man a part of my life for better of a few weeks.
A man’s man, he was. A loving and influential father and paternal figure, a grieving widower, a sharp, intelligent self-made man. A brute with a heart at times. Reading Wolf Hall was also like creating some sort of crush on the man for me (!). Certainly given the circumstances of his true character and various outcome of those left in his wake, I don’t think that was to be the case. But – she fleshed this man out so damned well.
It didn’t take me long to understand the methodology of the pronoun “he”, for this was under no uncertain terms, his story. Mantel kept me grounded with him, in his footsteps, standing next to him, within him. He was well… fleshed out.
She has a glorious way with words, turning them, flipping them, shaping them, molding them. Life wasn’t just described, it was felt, smelled, tasted. Sure writing is supposed to convey action this way, but it was just Mantel’s beautiful use of language and dialogue that unleashed such depth. It was a joy to experience.
She managed to expound upon one of history’s most odd moments, which was probably best done through the eyes of one, Cromwell, and make it as plausible as possible. It was a refreshing take on an old history lesson, which has revamped my interest in British history and enhanced my TBR with even more historical fiction from the earlier era.
My thoughts on the sequel: Bring Up the Bodies.
Have you read either of them or both? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too!
For immediate publishing updates, please stop by my website and sign up for my newsletter. My thanks to you is a FREE story – Without Your Goodbye!