T. K. Elliott (Tiffany)'s Reviews > Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
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really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, reviewed

What I Liked
Mantel's style. She has a sort of understated humour that reminds me of Jane Austen and a slightly sideways way of looking at things: you get the impression that she is poking gentle fun at her characters, but without any kind of nastiness. She is not one of those authors who seem to spend the whole book sneering at the poor people she's pushing around. This made the book a surprisingly easy, relaxing read.

Thomas Cromwell. The early-to-mid-sixteenth century isn't one of my favoured periods, so I know who everybody is, but not enough to say whether her portrayal of Cromwell is accurate or not. Whichever, I liked him. He's ferociously intelligent, extremely tough, yet a faithful servant and a good master.

What was strangely missing
Lots of important historical events. This book is obviously about Cromwell the man, written very nearly from his point of view; we have more detail of his day-to-day dealings with his family and dependants than of historical events. Even events like the trial of Sir Thomas More happen off-page. While this gives us more time with Cromwell, it does cut down on the drama.

What I Didn't Like
Present-tense narration. Allegedly, this is meant to make the story more immediate. I don't know whether that works for anyone else, but it certainly doesn't for me. It gives the story a weird, dreamy, ephemeral feeling, as if the characters exist in an eternal now with no past and no future. It definitely cuts down on the dramatic tension for me.

It may be the present-tense thing that led to a certain amount of pronoun-confusion. "He" mostly refers to Cromwell, except when it doesn't. Since so many of the characters are male, and could therefore be "he", one does have to make the effort to keep track.

Conclusion
I'm glad I read it - I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I may even read Bring Up the Bodies!
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Quotes T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) Liked

Hilary Mantel
“For hundreds of years the monks have held the pen, and what they have written is what we take to be our history, but I do not believe it really is. I believe they have suppressed the history they don't like, and written one that is favourable to Rome.’ Henry”
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall


Reading Progress

August 15, 2016 – Started Reading
August 15, 2016 – Shelved
August 15, 2016 –
32.0%
August 22, 2016 –
61.0%
August 23, 2016 –
76.0%
August 23, 2016 –
83.0%
August 23, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
August 23, 2016 – Shelved as: reviewed
August 23, 2016 – Finished Reading

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