Tudor History Lovers discussion

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message 1: by Meaghan (new)

Meaghan (booklove83) I'm new to goodreads and to this group, so this might have been done already... forgive me if so.

Am I the only person in the world who did not care for Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel? I found the writing slow and confusing, and I am not a slow reader. I also found the historical part to be a quite lacking... I was actually confused in parts and had to go look things up in other books! I finished it, but it was a near thing.

Anyone else?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

sorry, i've never read. can you tell me what its about plz?


message 3: by Meaghan (new)

Meaghan (booklove83) It's historical fiction and is about Thomas Cromwell and his relationship to Henry VIII. It won the Man Booker prize last year and there was TONS of hype surrounding it but I was not super impressed.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

o cool, did the writer basicly drag on a it?


message 5: by Marylou (last edited Jun 02, 2010 02:06PM) (new)

Marylou (loulu) | 164 comments I read Wolf Hall and found it almost impossible to comprehend. I think it was never clear who was talking. I was so excited to begin it but had to force myself to finish it. The book reminded me of the stream of consciousness writing. I will have to read it over keeping in mind all he'e are Cromwell


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1956 comments I enjoyed it, though it was certainly not an "easy" read.

If one kept in mind that "he" was almost always Cromwell, it was easier to read.


message 7: by Beth (new)

Beth | 13 comments I agree with you 1000%. It was a book club selection and I forced myself (a Tudor lover) to finish it. I do not understand why it won the Man Booker Prize.


message 8: by Meaghan (new)

Meaghan (booklove83) Good to know I'm not the only one who struggled! You're right, Marylou, it was like stream of consciousness writing, and I'm not a big fan of that. I just can't reconcile that style of writing to the Tudor era!


message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex Yeah...I've seen a lot of posts all over this site on both sides of the Wolf Hall debate. You're definitely far from alone. I agree with Susanna's assessment, for whatever that's worth.


message 10: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cwsmith) My book group read Wolf Hall for May. I started reading it on a long car trip back in the fall and absolutely fell into it ... but made the mistake of setting it aside (holidays??) and didn't pick up again until April. Then I had to get back into it all over again. Wish I had read it in one go. It helps in reading this book if you have a good grounding in Tudor history (as everyone in this group surely has) ... then you can catch the nuances Mantel plants for various characters. One member of my book group (an accounting prof) had trouble following it because history wasn't her strong suit. I can understand why some readers didn't enjoy the book ... the writing style is definitely "stream of consciousness" and non-chronological. But if you can live with the style, it is a fascinating book. Can't wait for the sequel.

There are several interviews with Mantel on YouTube. These really add a level of understanding about why and how she wrote the way she did.


message 11: by Alex (new)

Alex Mm - good point, Cindy. Another tip I wish I'd had before I read Wolf Hall is that it works better in large chunks. If you read it in 20-minute spurts on the subway, as I tend to do, it's much more difficult to get lost in.


message 12: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments Maybe that's my problem. I can't seem to get into the book at all. According to my Kindle I've read 8% of the book so I don't know what page I'm on, but it was a grueling 8%, I'll tell ya that!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1956 comments Oh God, Wolf Hall would be one of the very last novels I'd read in brief snatches. It went a lot better as you gave it more time, as it would be easier to "go with the flow." I'd set aside several hours at a time for it.


message 14: by Tina (new)

Tina | 0 comments Aly wrote: "Maybe that's my problem. I can't seem to get into the book at all. According to my Kindle I've read 8% of the book so I don't know what page I'm on, but it was a grueling 8%, I'll tell ya that!"

Aly, I can remember checking my status when reading it and thinking 11% (or whatever it was) I've only gained 1% surely I've read more than that! If you can take everyone's advice and dedicate a large chunk of time, it will pick up steam! Find yourself a quiet room, pour a glass of wine, grab some dark chocolate to snack on, and remember the 'he' is Cromwell most of the time. It will pick up (fingers crossed :))


message 15: by Alex (new)

Alex And put a little sticker over the % thing. I get obsessed with that and end up distracting myself.


message 16: by Marylou (last edited Jun 05, 2010 02:20PM) (new)

Marylou (loulu) | 164 comments I am probably not agreeing with almost anyone about Wolf Hall. I read it for short spells, I read it for hours. I still had trouble trying to understand it.
Someday I will try reading it again but not for a long while. I do not see how the book received a prize. It was so convaluted.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1956 comments That's why it was a piece of historical fiction that actually won the Booker. It was "literary."


message 18: by Marylou (new)

Marylou (loulu) | 164 comments Yes, it was written in a literary style. I think it she was using the stream of consciousness like the literary style of James Joyce.


message 19: by Marie Z (new)

Marie Z Johansen (mzjohansen) | 52 comments Meaghan wrote: "I'm new to goodreads and to this group, so this might have been done already... forgive me if so.

Am I the only person in the world who did not care for Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel? I found the ..."


No - I have to agree with you on this book. I was so excited about getting a copy in my hands - but I found it difficult to read. I am planning to give it another go in some time - perhaps I will like the first person narration better by then! It was rather "Joyce-ian" now that I think of it that way!


message 20: by Alex (new)

Alex This conversation is making me wonder if I should give Joyce another shot. :)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1956 comments I'm not. I respect Joyce, but I don't enjoy him. Faulkner's another story. He confuses me superbly, but I enjoy it.


message 22: by Marylou (new)

Marylou (loulu) | 164 comments Has anyone read to Defy a King. It is so interesting. I have read several nonfiction books about William Marshall and wish I could know him today as he is impressive. I cannot put the book down.


message 23: by annie (new)

annie (tellsnoemotion) | 147 comments I have this book on my to read list... I must say, I feel a little apprehensive now! Everybody gave helpful suggestions though so I'll just have to keep those in mind when I finally read it :)


message 24: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments it has taken me so long to get into this book!! Annie, hopefully you'll have a better go at it then I'm having!!


message 25: by Angela (new)

Angela Simmons (simplyangela) | 34 comments I ordered Wolf Hall a few months ago when it was the group read. Well. I finally just received the book, and I cannot get into it. I don't if it's just me or if it's the book. Normally when I read a Tudor themed book it hold my attention.


message 26: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments It doesn't hold my attention either, and I want it to!!


message 27: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cwsmith) I loved this book. I agree it took some time to get into. I have a decent grounding in English history, but needed to brush up a bit on the major characters (thanks, Wikipedia!). Once I did that and had some time to really focus on this book, I fell in love with it. No, it isn't easy ready. But it is so well-written, so engaging, making history come to life. If you really don't like it, put it down (why waste valuable time) ... but give it at least 100 pages.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1956 comments I think that's very good advice, Cindy. I found it not an easy or quick read, but a rewarding one if I stuck with it.


message 29: by Rhonda (last edited Jul 14, 2010 09:56AM) (new)

Rhonda (RhondaRockwell) If you let it, Wolf Hall will teach you how to read it. Innovative fiction (Ulysses and Beloved come to mind) tends to do this. Kick and squeal all you want, trying to figure out who "he" is, the book will remind you every so often that it is Thomas Cromwell's story, not Henry's, not Wolsey's, not Cavendish's. Wolf Hall is in the present tense; the reader is both inside Cromwell's head and watching him from outside. The history is--forgive me!--actually beside the point. It's fun to know who Anne was and what happened with the Pope and all that, but the real beauty of the book is the immediacy Mantel creates with descriptions like "Anne was small and tense, as if someone had knitted her and pulled the stitches too tight." We already have the historical perspective on how terrible the situation was, how much at stake, the fallout, etc. What Mantel does is let us imagine how terrible it was--and how it was terrible--AT THE TIME: a new perspective, after 500 years. That's why it won the Booker. That's why it's "hard" to get into--we've never been there before--and that's why I love it.


message 30: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (kimberly_b) | 8 comments Rhonda wrote: "If you let it, Wolf Hall will teach you how to read it. Innovative fiction (Ulysses and Beloved come to mind) tends to do this. Kick and squeal all you want, trying to figure out who "he" is, the b..."

Great description, Rhonda! I couldn't have said it better myself. The only way to appreciate Wolf Hall is to just give yourself over to it and enjoy the ride. I also loved it--such a brilliant book!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1956 comments I found it a very interesting novel, and I'm still trying to decide whether or not it has a "unreliable narrator."


message 32: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments Ok, so I came across a quote today from Wolf Hall that I absolutely fell in love with. I don't know the page number because I am reading it on my Kindle but I'm guessing it's somewhere between 230 and 245. It's talking about AB's possibly deformity and how she hides her fingers in her sleeves.

"It is so much a habit with her that people say she has something to hide, a deformity; but he thinks she is a woman who doesn't like to show her hand."

I found it so awesome because of the double meaning behind it. I love the little bit of dry sarcasm in this book. For the first time EVER, I really feel Cromwell. I feel like I kinda get him. It's weird.


message 33: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (kimberly_b) | 8 comments Great quote, Aly! I loved that one too :) Mantel writes so cleverly; I'm impressed.


message 34: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments I'm impressed too. I'm having a really hard time putting this book down now!! Hurray!! I LOVE getting sucked into a book.


message 35: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments I've read some reviews from people who read it and didn't understand what was going on in the background. I think it probably really helps to get into the book more if you know this history behind it. One reviewer was talking about how she had to keep doing family tree and google searches to understand it. I think that would make it a very very tedious book to read.


message 36: by Kate. (new)

Kate. | 173 comments i love the dry wit of this book.


message 37: by chucklesthescot (new)

chucklesthescot This one is on my volcano sized tbr...!


message 38: by Angela (new)

Angela Simmons (simplyangela) | 34 comments I mentioned before that I had a hard time getting into this book, well I must have been off kilter that day, because when I picked it up a few days ago I read it straight through.


message 39: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) | 854 comments I wish I had the time to read it straight through!! Even though I know what happens, I still want to know what happens LOL


message 40: by annie (new)

annie (tellsnoemotion) | 147 comments Okay that was an awesome quote, Aly. I had put this book off because of some reviews but I think I'll most it up on my to read list!


message 41: by annie (new)

annie (tellsnoemotion) | 147 comments Aly wrote: "I wish I had the time to read it straight through!! Even though I know what happens, I still want to know what happens LOL"

I'm like that with a lot of Tudor books, and it doesn't make any sense to me. I know these stories, majority of them off by heart, I know the endings so why do I stay up until two am to finish the book??? Madness, I say!


message 42: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Day | 71 comments I loved Wolf Hall. read it with Alison Weir's nonfiction account about AB and you really see the complete picture of Cromwell!


message 43: by Princessfaz (new)

Princessfaz | 8 comments I loved Wolf Hall but it took me awhile to get into the writing style. If you just remember that "he" is always Cromwell, you will be fine. Give it another shot, its fascinating!!


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't know if I whould be excited to read this one, or scared :)
It's sitting on my bookshelf, looking at me


message 45: by Kimberly (last edited Aug 18, 2011 09:38AM) (new)

Kimberly (kimberly_b) | 8 comments I loved it Niecole, but it's definitely a unique book. It's one of those ones that you really have to be in the mood for.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for the heads up Kimberly :)
I think I'll wait until my exams are done at the end of October then before attempting this one


message 47: by Alison (new)

Alison (alison8) | 2 comments Rhonda wrote: "If you let it, Wolf Hall will teach you how to read it. Innovative fiction (Ulysses and Beloved come to mind) tends to do this. Kick and squeal all you want, trying to figure out who "he" is, the b..."

Rhonda wrote: "If you let it, Wolf Hall will teach you how to read it. Innovative fiction (Ulysses and Beloved come to mind) tends to do this. Kick and squeal all you want, trying to figure out who "he" is, the b..."

HI , I am new to the group and wanted to say how much I loved Wolf Hall. Rhonda has said a lot of what I wanted to say (worth reviewing her comments) - although I found the History to be important to my enjoyment of the novel ( but I am an historian and teach this period ) but my partner equally enjoyed the novel and he knows nothing about the period . We did have long discussions about the period covered as he wanted to know more about Cromwell and his role in Tudor England because he is a curious manand wanted to have a deeper understanding of what Mantel was saying ). I have another friend who really enjoyed doing some research to help her understand further /. I am a little puzzled that in a Tudor Group people would find having to do some research a difficulty. One of the things I liked about Mantel is that she was economical with the extensive research she had undertaken - she had a light touch and yet drew you into Cromwell's world most effectively.


message 48: by Joanne (new)

Joanne | 1 comments I am about 200 pages into Wolf Hall and while it is quite a heavy read I feel like I am on a journey with Cromwell, there by his side, experiencing his emotions. His loyalty and deep feelings for Wolsey are surprising and admirable. His view of people and the world about him is intuitive with a touch of humour. I am looking forward to seeing how future events will unfold through the eyes of this beholder...

Jo - Historical Romance Review


message 49: by Wes (new)

Wes Simpson | 2 comments I am just about 100 pages in and I am enjoying this a lot. I think that the writing style takes a little bit of getting used to but I haven't found it holding me up while reading the book.

I actually picked the book up for two dollars in the Borders going out of business sale what a bargain!

Can anybody tell me if Cardinal Wolsey's lute playing boy is Mark Seaton, Anne Boleyn's alleged lover?

Looking forward to reading more of this engrossing novel.

Wes..


message 50: by Mandy (new)

Mandy | 26 comments Wes, This might be helpful... I will just post the link rather than repeat what is in it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Sme...


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