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June 2015: Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall

SuperReaderGirl

Forum Owner
Staff member
Here's our selection for June (recommended by 753C )!


Summary from Goodreads:
'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.'

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.


Sounds like a good read! :) Hopefully we'll have some good discussion!​
 

canuck

Active Member
Still waiting for my copy of Wolf Hall from the library. Am told it is a big book so that's what's taking it so long to make it's way to me on the list.
 

753C

Active Member
Lol. I was reading it on kindle and had no idea the book was that big until after I had finished it. I kept wondering why it was taking me so long to get through. I kept looking at "thirty percent" left and thinking I should be done in a day or so, and then it kept going and going and going. In a good way though.
Also I do have to laugh a little about the little blurb at the top of the book cover that SuperReaderGirl posted. I don't quite know if I agree with that... It was more like a gentle tour down a winding river to me, but oh well. I guess we will see what others think.
 

753C

Active Member
If you talk about it, I will talk with you. Maybe others will join and we will have a discussion!
Did you like it? What did you think of it overall? Did you like Cromwell or no?
 
I think Thomas Cromwell will go down in history as the sadistic bully who destroyed Thomas More.
What troubled me about Mantel was her poor grammar.
Specifically her sudden switching of tenses; were it not for the B.B.C.'s obsession with the Tudors, I think she would have faded into obscurity.
Other writers have done a far better job of the 'story'.
The use of profanity in the TV adaptation was unnecessary and distressing.
 

Polly Parrot

Moderator
Staff member
I am about half-way through the book, it is taking me rather long to complete. The plot doesn't quite grip me, though I do find it an interesting read. The characters besides Cromwell himself are mostly one-dimensional; his household seems to consist of a mix of whiny women and young boys who aren't as masculine as their father would like them to be.
 

753C

Active Member
I think Thomas Cromwell will go down in history as the sadistic bully who destroyed Thomas More.
What troubled me about Mantel was her poor grammar.
Specifically her sudden switching of tenses; were it not for the B.B.C.'s obsession with the Tudors, I think she would have faded into obscurity.
Other writers have done a far better job of the 'story'.
The use of profanity in the TV adaptation was unnecessary and distressing.

AVSG, I knew next to nothing about the Tudors before I read this, and I must say the book kept me heading back to wikipedia to learn more about the people portrayed in the novel (citation needed). From what I've read additionally I don't necessarily think More was an angel. The Cromwell portrayed in Wolf Hall is, by his own admission, a bully. Among many other things.
I didn't find Mantel guilty of bad grammar, I think she just has a different style of writing. It was a bit off-putting at first but at about halfway through the book it clicked and then smooth sailing for me.
I haven't watched the TV show, so I can't comment on that.

Polly, I think I had the exact same experience as you reading Wolf Hall. The same slow going, and the same feelings about the subject matter. Based on my early feelings reading the book, I didn't even know if I would finish it..... but then I kept going and by the end I was enthusiastic about the second one. I read that one in about a week. Now I want another one. I don't remember ever having such a strong shift in "reading enthusiasm".
 
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