Thursday, December 27, 2012
When I was handed Wolf Hall I actually groaned and not exactly with pleasure I might add. I love historical novels, but faced with 650 pages it went on the shelf. I was told it would take me awhile to get into it, so it stayed on the shelf. About 4 weeks ago I decided to give it a go, and then could hardly wait to go to bed to read more, Mantel's writing style drew me in completely. She details short, almost off-hand conversations between Cromwell and his family. And then, sometimes, she will give us fascinating debates between Cromwell and Sir Thomas More, the "man for all seasons" who was ruthless in his practices to rid England of heretics, it doesn't lag one bit for a 600+ page historical novel, it moves very quickly. Throughout the novel, Cromwell is reminded of his humble beginnings and is looked down upon by noblemen who wonder how he has been able to rise to such lofty heights. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Henry VIII and that time period. Readers looking for something along the lines of "The Other Boleyn Girl" won't find it here...this is fiction at its finest.
I was left wanting more and lucky for me I had the sequel 'Bringing up the Bodies'. It continues the story of Thomas Cromwell; self made man, secretary chief minister and adviser to Henry VIII at one of the most tumultuous times in British History. You will also find yourself reading certain passages over and over again simply because they are so perfect. And I have to mention that you will find yourself laughing out loud at times? This time I never groaned when I saw 400+ pages in fact I was truly disappointed when I turned the last page. The style, the intricate plotting, the characterizations, and Mantel's total ability to capture England itself and the mundane details of 16th century English life, are without parallel. This for me goes straight to the top of the list of the best novels I've read this year.
Have you read them? tell me what you thought.