Michael's Reviews > Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
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Jun 07, 12

bookshelves: historical-fiction, literary-fiction, religion, man-booker-prize, british-literature, 2000s
Read from June 04 to 08, 2012

Told through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall is a wonderful take on Tudor history. Hilary Mantel sets out to write a fictionalised biography of the rise to power of Cromwell, as well as the fall of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s desire to divorce and the opposition of Thomas More. Mantel puts her take on the characterisation of these historical figures and went to painstaking lengths to make sure her version of the story lines up with the historical events as accurately as possible.

Just for the sake of understanding the history behind the book, I did a bit of research before reading this book. I believe this book is set between 1500 and 1535; King Henry VIII has no heir and his chief advisor Cardinal Wolsey is trying to secure his divorce which the Pope refuses to grant. Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith rises to power by becoming Cardinal Wolsey’s clerk and then later his successor. Wolf Hall takes a look at the history and the morality behind the English Reformation; the English church's break with the Catholic Church in Rome.

With the success of The Tudors TV show and The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, I’m not surprised how popular this book was but I’m a little surprised that it ended up winning the Man Booker prize in 2009. However, this book is a beautiful read and I found it fascinating that Hilary Mantel gave Thomas Cromwell a real sense of humanity when most recordings seem to vilify him. I’m a little confused why this book was called Wolf Hall when Wulfhall was the manor that was the seat of the Seymour family and yet there wasn’t much in this novel to do with Jane Seymour.

Fans of historical fiction, especially of this period of history, this is the book for you. Don’t be too worried about the sheer size of this novel, you won’t be disappointed. For anyone that has no interest in the period then, I’m not sure if you would want to read this. Personally I don’t have much of an interest in the Tudor’s dynasty but I’m interested in books that tackle morality and that drove me through this book but I did end up developing an interest in the history. I’m keen to read the next book in this planned trilogy; Bring Up the Bodies which only covers 1535 to 1556 and centres around the downfall of Anne Boleyn.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Sally906 (new)

Sally906 Have to confess the size turns me off. I majored in Tudor era when I did History at Uni so love all books Tudor. I now have an ebook version so have no excuse to say the size turns me off :)


Michael Sally906 wrote: "Have to confess the size turns me off. I majored in Tudor era when I did History at Uni so love all books Tudor. I now have an ebook version so have no excuse to say the size turns me off :)"

I'm not sure if you read multiple books at a time but if you do I recommend reading it on the side


Victoria Young I'm looking forward to seeing how/if Hilary Mantel is able to keep that sympathetic interpretation of Cromwell's character alive once she gets to 1537 Lincoln/ York uprisings and reprisals.


Michael That will be interesting


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