David Traeger, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by David Traeger)
When I was a kid in the 60’s I frequented Ye Old and Rare Books on Hawthorne across from The Bagdad. Mr. Johnson, the owner, used to call historical novels hysterical novels. I thought that was soooo funny and since and always loved historical novels. ( like The Tudor Wench by Elswyth Thane 1932. I still have my mother’s copy bought for her in London by my grandfather during the war.) Its been years since I have read one until Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. I know it is very, very popular but it is that good. My pick for the best book I have read in 2012.
Patrick Nichols, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Patrick Nichols)
Mantel's authorial style and command is simply stunning. I have never considered myself the least interested in English royal history, but Mantel tells the stories of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, and all those around them in such rich detail I couldn't help but immerse myself in their (fictionalized) worlds. I highly recommend reading Wolf Hall in print rather than as an e-book, as the cast of characters summary and family trees at the front of the book are necessary references in helping keep details straight.
Peelwhip, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Peelwhip)
It's a great read, the writing is superb! I was there with Thomas Cromwell, looking over his shoulder as he manoeuvred his way through the life at the court of Henry VIII. Almost started it again straight away!
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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