John
John asked:

I found this book difficult to read, because one had to constantly refer to family trees. If I left it for a few days I almost had to start again. Not sure it is one I would recommend as a MUST read....anyone think differently?

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Karoline I agree. I feel that I am extremely well-versed in the topic and I can't imagine anyone who doesn't already know the details of the events being able to read this. Plus, the writing style does not always make it obvious what person the story is being told in - or who is even speaking for pages. I applaud the work, but not a fun read.
Jonathan I'm on page 200. I can only equate reading this to Chinese water torture, or having bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails....... I am stunned by the praise and accolades heaped upon this novel. Pretentious. It is next to impossible to know who is speaking. Not much has happened so far.... And yes, almost everyone is named Thomas - not that you're even told that "Thomas" is the one speaking.....or they're named Mary. If you appreciate quotation marks, I don't suggest reading this. The only thing that has helped, is that someone on Goodreads said that pretty much whenever you see the word "he", it either refers to Thomas Cromwell, or is a thought of Thomas Cromwell. I love a GOOD challenge. For me, this is just a BAD challenge.
Paula This is not an answer, but a compliment to all those who have commented here. Far too often I have visited book forums where people are uncivil when they ought to simply be exchanging opinions and ideas. I just want to compliment all of you because your opinions have been given so intelligently and helpfully that I can't help but admire and appreciate you all. Thank goodness there are still those who can share what they think with kindness. After all, we are coming here so that we can enhance our knowledge and appreciation of books. You are all wonderful and classy!
Stephen Yes, I'm giving up. As much as I love Tudor history and have read a lot of historical fiction, this book requires strict attention to detail or you keep going backwards to try and understand what is going and who is saying what.
Lorraine I thought I had a good knowledge of Tudor history but I also found it difficult. The narrative confused me.I will watch the series and read it again
ROB It can be a difficult read. Having a reasonable working knowledge of Tudor history does help. Who is who can also be confusing, partly cos there are too many Edwards and Henrys.....haha. No this novel has to be read really slowly otherwise you lose it.....took me 6 months.
Ahmed elhoubi you are right it, even with more than 90 characters half of them are Thomas.
Matt Jameson I finally finished it after 5 years and three prior failed attempts. I completely agree about the family trees (and moreso for me, the character list), although I had a different issue: the author's strange usage of the pronoun "he," which usually, but not always, referred to Cromwell, regardless of who had just been mentioned by name in the previous sentence. I found this constantly disorienting (perhaps purposefully, who knows), and it made the audiobook, which I grabbed as a companion to the text, completely unlistenable. Moving in and out of dialogue without warning also made the audiobook even more confusing. Ultimately, though, I really enjoyed the book.
Heather I wouldn't call it a must-read; I know a couple people who found it slow and difficult and gloomy. But I loved it, and I'm loving it all over again in light of the BBC adaptation, because as I read it I can see and hear the fantastic actors in my mind.
Several secondary characters (including Rafe Sadler, Lady Rochford, and Ambassador Chapuys) really POP into vivid life -- and Mark Rylance as Cromwell is amazing.
Sandra Natalini While I agree it's not an easy book to read, I would still recommend it to those who will take the challenge. I think the narrative is very interesting, the way the reader is led through the story as if in Cromwell's eyes and mind. I'm Brazilian, not a native speaker of English, and I struggled a little bit with vocabulary and the sometimes unusual back reference of "he" (as mentioned by others here) but I just loved the book! I knew near nothing of Tudor history before reading it, and I don't think that's a problem...you can -and will- still piece things together if you are an attentive reader and take your time through the book: it took me almost a year to read it.
Carla Dee Yes. Very confusing. Also, as dull as dishwater. Never read such a dull historical novel.
Martin It was not that hard to follow. It does perhaps need more effort than some books because of the numbers of people it deals with, but they get introduced logically and all the characters generally have a context they fit into too.

It is probably way easier than something like War and Peace.

Is it a must read? it depends on your tastes. I think it one of the best written books (and that applies to all the trilogy) of several decades, and I find it hard to think of any historical fiction of any era that is both so strong on the writing and character and feel of being part of the era.
Eileen Sainsbury I started reading this book in 2010 and gave up - but in 2018 I had another go and thoroughly enjoyed it!
AromaToto I have friend thats read all of her books, so I would give a try. Even it's difficult to read.

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Beth Kakuma-Depew I just finished reading Dan Jones' history of the War of the Roses, which helped me. Also Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, is very cheesy romance, but helped make the characters stand out. So is it a Must-Read? I think it depends on how much you love Tudor England. But if the reader is already familiar with the time period and the major political players, then I think yes.
Kathy I know this is an extremely late response to you comment, but I agree.
My good friend has read all of her books, so I thought I would give it a try. I finished it, but I was very confused about all of the names and titles. However, I imagine that is the reason for the list of places and characters at the beginning of the book. From time to time,
I had a difficult time determining the speaker.
Jenn Loved it. Having said that, I was raised knowing Tudor history so was already familiar with the story of Cromwell and Henry. If anything, I was put off reading it initially because the Tudors have been worked to death and I was sick of them. I would preferred she had written about an era I wasn't so familiar with. But she writes beautifully I think.
Patricia I am reduced to skimming it because it is so difficult to follow. I plan on watching the PBS series and then reading it again. It really would have helped if I had had a better knowledge of Tudor England. Knowing Henry the VIII had several wives is not nearly enough. perhaps reading an easier history first would be a help. I am expecting a great help from the tv series.
Marie Bennett I am trying once again, after 2 attempts, to read Wolf Hall. Actually, I'm listening to the audiobook this time around which makes it ALOT easier to understand. I had already read and listened to Bring up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light because Wolf Hall was never available on my reading app. Anyway, I find the audiobook more entertaining and so much easier to follow. Great book and an amazing narrator, which is Simon Slater.
MRS SHARON I started to read it, thought confused.com but I have to give it at least 30 pages... Then I put it down. I love the Tudors, and know the popular history, so I picked it up again and to me, the realisation that 'he' was mostly always Cromwell seemed to make it much clearer (obvious to some, I guess, but not me, at first!) Then I could not put it down and waited with baited breath for the other two! I read all three as soon as I could, WH a long time ago now, obvs. But I felt as if I were sitting on Cromwell's shoulder, watching the events unfold...that's how it affected me! :)
Chris It's certainly a must read for me, in fact I've read it at least 4 times, and would again! I really feel I'm immersed in the times. I do agree it's hard to tell who is speaking sometimes, although it means there is not that annoying "Thomas said...". But it's always been well worth the effort for me.
Robert Thought I had read it, but it seems not. I only checked because the conclusion to the trilogy has just been published. I didn't even know there was a second book.
Jaksen Yeah, this is what I call a 'heavy read,' though sometimes I'm up for the challenge. I read - or listened to - 'Bring Up the Bodies First,' and often found myself relistening to passages. Still, I'd recommend it for anyone who wants a diff insight into what went on all those hundreds of years ago.
Natalie Rood I know this is an old question, but in case anyone thinking about reading the book sees this--I recommend the audiobook for people who have a hard time pacing themselves through the book. A working knowledge of Tudor history is very helpful in keeping everyone straight, but so is the guy in the audiobook who does voices.
Kimiya Roudgar I agree.it's the thing about historical novels.but to be honest that's one of the things I really love about them:not being able to put it down!
John Agree, but maybe the production will help.
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