Heather's Reviews > Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
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Jun 29, 11

bookshelves: 16th-c, anne-boleyn, audio-book, catherine-of-aragon, england, henry-viii, historical-fiction, borrowed
Read from May 11 to 26, 2011

Alright, right off I’m going to tell you that I didn't really love this book like most others that I talk to, and there are quite a few reasons why, which I will elaborate on in a few lines. I have actually attempted to read this book twice. I had received this book for review back in 2009 and could not get myself past about page 30. Every time that I picked it up to read it I would find myself falling asleep. At first I thought it was because I was just tired at that time, but I would still have similar problems when I read it the second time. So I stopped reading it and gave it away to a fellow blogger.

Time elapsed – a year and a half passed – and I read so many awesome raving reviews of the book I thought maybe I had missed something. I decided I would think about trying it again on audiobook this time (a great narrator can really make a difference). Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com offered to let me borrow her audio copy and I took her up on the opportunity. The second time around was better and I will give all of the credit to the narrator and audio production because I still didn’t love the story.

I had a difficult time staying interested in this novel because it never felt like anything was happening. I have been told that this is a hallmark of literary fiction – which focuses more on style and characters – and if that is the case, I guess literary fiction is not for me. I certainly like to have depth of characters and well written prose, but I want to know that over the 600-ish pages there are plot points and excitement and in general, things that happen. I learned a lot about the character of Thomas Cromwell, who was relatively new to me and often serves more as a periphery character in other’s stories. He was also portrayed as more of a sympathetic character as opposed to the mostly negative depictions of him in other works of literature. I didn’t like the point of view – everything was “he”, “he”, “he” – and at several points I totally lost track as to who was being described. I also felt that the ending was very abrupt – I was waiting for the story to wrap up, but apparently that wasn’t meant to be.

Also, my biggest question, what the heck is up with the title? They never went to Wolf Hall, nothing happened at Wolf Hall, nothing critical related to Wolf Hall happened, and the only connection to it (Jane Seymour) was a minor character. If someone could explain this to me I would be very grateful.

Now, the audio production on the other hand, was quite good. The narrator did a fabulous job of portraying different characters, accents, female characters, etc. He even had to do a little singing at one point. There were some very minor sound effects used in the production – the one that stands out most in my mind was the use of a lute-type instrument during the singing portion. It certainly added to the experience. I can safely say that this book would have remained a DNF if I had not chosen to listen to it on audio. The narrator was the saving grace for me.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Audra (Unabridged Chick) ohno -- two stars? I thought everyone was so swoony abt this!


Heather You know, I thought so too but I have found a few others lately who didn't love it. I tried reading it one time before in paperback but just couldn't do it. Audio was better. But my real review will be up in a week or so. Not awful but I couldn't stand the POV.


Audra (Unabridged Chick) Can't wait to see your thoughts then -- the POV is always make-it-or-break-it for me!


message 4: by Jenny (new) - added it

Jenny Q I couldn't finish this one. I only got about 120 pages in. Good for you for sticking through it!


Heather Jenny- the first time I tried reading it I don't think I got past maybe page 20. I kept falling asleep!


message 6: by Carole (new)

Carole Rae I'm sorry about you having a hard time with this! I know how that feels...I'm currently having to force myself to finish 'Tokaido Road'


message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Smith Couldn't agree with your more. What's up with the Booker Prize and the endless praise?


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