gorzd, January 3, 2011 (view all comments by gorzd)
an amazing journey behind the scenes in the court of Henry VIII
dense, vivid, exacting and exquisitely researched
reaches far beyond most historical fiction because of deep and rich character development
a great page-turner and superlative story-telling that turns old assumptions on their heads.
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ulappa, January 3, 2011 (view all comments by ulappa)
This was definitely my favorite book of the year! It was great to read historical fiction that seems so timely and has such a fresh, modern tone. Actually, I was really bummed that I didn't see that my review of "Wolf Hall" made the 'Daily Dose' until it was too late to claim a gift certificate but it hasn't stopped me raving about this book to everyone!
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Henry Holt & Company -
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.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Henry VIII's challenge to the church's power with his desire to divorce his queen and marry Anne Boleyn set off a tidal wave of religious, political and societal turmoil that reverberated throughout 16th-century Europe. Mantel boldly attempts to capture the sweeping internecine machinations of the times from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, the lowborn man who became one of Henry's closest advisers. Cromwell's actual beginnings are historically ambiguous, and Mantel admirably fills in the blanks, portraying Cromwell as an oft-beaten son who fled his father's home, fought for the French, studied law and was fluent in French, Latin and Italian. Mixing fiction with fact, Mantel captures the atmosphere of the times and brings to life the important players: Henry VIII; his wife, Katherine of Aragon; the bewitching Boleyn sisters; and the difficult Thomas More, who opposes the king. Unfortunately, Mantel also includes a distracting abundance of dizzying detail and Henry's all too voluminous political defeats and triumphs, which overshadows the more winning story of Cromwell and his influence on the events that led to the creation of the Church of England." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Stephen Greenblatt, The New York Review of Books,
"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."
by The Economist,
"Whether we accept Ms. Mantel's reading of history or not, her characters have a lifeblood of their own . . . a Shakespearean vigour. Stylistically, her fly-on-the-wall approach is achieved through the present tense, of which she is a master. Her prose is muscular, avoiding cod Tudor dialogue and going for direct modern English. The result is Ms. Mantel's best novel yet."
by Christopher Benfey, The New York Times Book Review,
"Thomas Cromwell remains a controversial and mysterious figure. Mantel has filled in the blanks plausibly, brilliantly. Wolf Hall has epic scale but lyric texture. Its 500-plus pages turn quickly, winged and falconlike . . . both spellbinding and believable."
by Wendy Smith, The 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 Janet Maslin, The 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 . . . Deft and diabolical as they are, Ms. Mantel's slyly malicious turns of phrase . . . succinctly capture the important struggles that have set her characters talking."
by Richard Eder, The Boston Globe,
"Instead of bringing the past to us, Mantel's writing, brilliant and black, launches us disconcertingly into the past. We are space-time travelers landed in an alien world . . . history is a feast whose various and vital excitements and intrigues make the book a long and complex pleasure."
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 Joan Acocella, The New Yorker,
"Mantel's interest is in the question of good and evil as it applies to people who wield great power. That means anguish, exultation, deals, spies, decapitations, and fabulous clothes . . . She always goes for color, richness, music. She has read Shakespeare closely. One also hears the accents of the young James Joyce."
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIIIs court, one man dares to gamble his life to win the kings favor and ascend to the heights of political power.
WINNER OF THE 2009 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is "a darkly brilliant reimagining of life under Henry VIII. . . . Magnificent." (The Boston Globe).
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIIIs court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the kings favor and ascend to the heights of political power
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the kings freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.
Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
In inimitable style, Hilary 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. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.
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