Karin Boykin, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Karin Boykin)
If you love historical fiction that appears to be pretty accurate, you may enjoy Wolf Hall. From Thomas Cromwell to Thomas More, to Henry VIII and the never too far off, Anne Boyeln, the intrigues never cease. The clear imagery of 1520s England pulls you into every scene, complete with sound and smell!! I couldn't put this book down for too long.
Jen Laverdure, January 24, 2013 (view all comments by Jen Laverdure)
This book was a delight! The story multitasks as it looks at the rise of capitalism and the demise of feudalism, the beginning of the English reformation, the evolving role of class at that time and even the role of women in the 16th century. Ms. Mantel takes us on a ride through history that is told in the very human voice of Thomas Cromwell, a merchant among royalty. Thomas Cromwell is a sympathetic character even as he plots with the king to rid the country of dissenters. The book inspired me to research the characters online between chapters because I was so intrigued. Ms. Mantel brings English history to life so eloquently, you will find yourself wanting more as you polish off this feast of 600 pages. Which is good because there's a sequel!
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Fiordiligi, January 23, 2013 (view all comments by Fiordiligi)
I "read" Wolf Hall in its audiobook incarnation. I think the format may have added to my enjoyment. Sometimes I read too fast, and the spoken word let me savor the writing thoroughly. The impressive sense of a very real human being with a non-modern consciousness, in a context which felt very specific and fully realized, and decidedly different from the present was, for me, unique.
Nieyda, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by Nieyda)
I couldn't put this down. Probably read it twice from re-reading paragraphs I found particularly juicy. At no time does depth and understanding of character or situation depend on any knowledge of, or interest in the historical period covered. Everything is there on the page in full sensurround 3-D human condition. It is a stunning piece of fiction, and I had no idea what I was in for.
Picador USA -
by Sheila N.,
Do we really need another sweeping historical epic set in 16th-century England? One which possesses at its heart yet another subplot about Henry VIII and his volatile affections? We certainly do if the novel is written by Hilary Mantel. Written in a beautifully lyrical prose style, tightly structured, and full of wonderful historical details, Wolf Hall is a masterpiece waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Definitely the best piece of fiction I've read all year. Ms. Mantel won the 2009 Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, a prize she richly deserves for having wrought such a gem.
by Sheila N.
by Stephen Greenblatt, The New York Review of Books,
"Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is a startling achievement, a brilliant historical novel focused on the rise to power of a figure exceedingly unlikely, on the face of things, to arouse any sympathy at all....This is a novel too in which nothing is wasted, and nothing completely disappears."
"Wolf Hall is a magnificent service to the language and literature whose early emancipation it depicts and also, in its demystifying of one of history's wickedest men, a service to the justice that Josephine Tey first demanded in The Daughter of Time."
"Whether we accept Ms. Mantel's reading of history or not, her characters have a lifeblood of their own.... Her prose is muscular, avoiding cod Tudor dialogue and going for direct modern English. The result is Ms Mantel's best novel yet."
by Washington Post,
"A novel both fresh and finely wrought: a brilliant portrait of a society in the throes of disorienting change, anchored by a penetrating character study of Henry's formidable advisor, Thomas Cromwell. It's no wonder that her masterful book just won this year's Booker Prize...[Mantel's prose is] extraordinarily flexible, subtle, and shrewd."
by New Yorker,
"[Mantel's] interest is in the question of good and evil as it applies to people who wield great power....She has read Shakespeare closely. One also hears the accents of the young James Joyce."
by New York Times Book Review,
"Wolf Hall has epic scale but lyric texture. Its 500-plus pages turn quickly, winged and falconlike....both spellbinding and believable."
by Ross King, Los Angeles Times,
"Mantel's abilities to channel the life and lexicon of the past are nothing short of astonishing. She burrows down through the historical record to uncover the tiniest, most telling details, evoking the minutiae of history as vividly as its grand sweep. The dialogue is so convincing that she seems to have been, in another life, a stenographer taking notes in the taverns and palaces of England."
by Boston Globe,
"Darkly magnificent...Instead of bringing the past to us, her writing, brilliant and black, launches us disconcertingly into the past. We are space-time travelers landed in an alien world."
by New York Times,
"Arch, elegant, richly detailed...[Wolf Hall's] main characters are scorchingly well rendered. And their sharp-clawed machinations are presented with nonstop verve in a book that can compress a wealth of incisiveness into a very few well-chosen words."
"[Mantel's] style implies enormous respect for her readers, as if she believes that we are as intelligent and empathetic as she is, and one of the acute pleasures of reading her books is that we sometimes find ourselves living up to those expectations."
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man, Thomas Cromwell, dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power. In inimitable style, Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage.
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