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The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
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The Mirror and the Light (original 2020; edition 2020)

by Hilary Mantel (Author)

Series: Wolf Hall Trilogy (3)

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1,0944713,159 (4.36)157
""If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?" England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith's son from Putney emerges from the spring's bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves. Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry's regime to the breaking point, Cromwell's robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him? With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man's vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion, and courage"--… (more)
Member:PDCW
Title:The Mirror and the Light
Authors:Hilary Mantel (Author)
Info:Fourth Estate (2020), 864 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Fiction, Historical Fiction

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The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (Author) (2020)

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Loved the first two books, but this one puts me to sleep. It goes sideways so often it's hard to follow. I realized part of it was I was zoning out so badly during the mental meanderings, I didn't realize we were back to what was supposedly currently going on. Too much of the book is stream of consciousness, complete with artsy language -- and not necessarily actual happenings but dreams and suppositions and "what-ifs." Less than half of it deals with actual, though fictionalized, historical events.

I waited a long time for this book, but it is so disappointing! ( )
  TheEclecticBookworm | Oct 25, 2020 |
Having really enjoyed the first 2 books, I was looking forward to this. I ended up waiting a long time for my library hold because of UK "lockdown" (no 1?). It's a chunkster that's for certain. It did take me along time to read as it is dense. But I mostly did enjoy it a lot. The only thing I was a bit "meh" about were the flash backs to Cromwell's early life again. There were too many of them. I also felt he is less sympathetic in the final volume to the earlier ones. But there was at least one point where the king is saying something about others and their words on Cromwell and I'm practically shouting at the book - look, Thomas there's your warning and you are ignoring it....
I studied the Tudors in school and even then was fascinated by Thomas Cromwell, so this trilogy has been just amazing. ( )
  infjsarah | Oct 15, 2020 |
I have no words.

How will I survive with this Cromwell shaped hole in my life? ( )
  LaurenHadcroft | Oct 9, 2020 |
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3487288.html

Rereading the first two books, I think I must resile a bit from my complaint that we don't get enough insight into Anne Boleyn. Actually, given that she is a women liviing a dangerous life at a dangerous time, we get pretty close to her, and the disintegration of her relationship with Henry is captured tremendously well. Wolf Hall has her rise (and the fall of Cromwell and More), and Bring Up the Bodies has her fall. And I think it's pretty clear that she drives the ideology of the King's new approach to religion, until he decides that she can't provide what he really wants, which is a son.

I also now recognise the theme of dynastic fragility throughout all three books. When Henry came to the throne in 1509, he was the son of a usurper who had ruled for less than 25 years, his only brother was dead, one sister was married to the King of Scots and the other engaged to the future Empereor Charles V, which effectively took them and their children out of the succession. (Of course, 94 years later, the English throne did go to Henry's great-great-nephew, uniting the Scottish and English thrones.) So the need to provide heirs for dynastic and social stability was imperative, and other claimants, more closely related to the Plantagenets, were ready to move if the situation developed in their favour; meanwhile the other great families, Norfolk/Howard, Suffolk/Brandon, Seymour, all put their eligible girls in the king's line of sight.

Cromwell, having switched from Wolsey to the king at an early stage, and with no dynastic capital to spend at first, dedicates himself to maintaining the regime. But he seems to me always conscious of two things: first, that he is a smarter and better operator than the King, and second that it could all end rather rapidly; every few pages someone is burnt, hanged or beheaded. One subplot from the second book that I didn't pay enough attention to first time round is Cromwell's rescue of the eldest daughter, Mary, from potential disaster; and by the end of the trilogy it's reasonably clear that Henry is set to rehabilitate his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, both of whom had been declared illegitimate at the point that their mothers' marriages were annulled. And of course we know that they did both inherit the throne in the end; but Mantel shows us that there was nothing inevitable about it.

I thought the third book a tremendous capstone to the other two. We know how the story is going to end; but until we get to the dramatic denouement, Cromwell continues to consolidate power around himself, and juggles the demands of Henry VIII, the other lords and the foreign powers, not to mention the women in Henry's life - the book is very much centred around managing his third and fourth marriages, and the fifth takes place at the very end (and the future sixth wife is hovering around the edges of the scene as well). There's also a great sub-plot about a long-lost Belgian daughter, and the dead Thomas Becket and the live ambassador Chapuys are fascinating characters too.

The single most powerful scene is in fact reported indirectly - when Anne of Cleves first sees Henry, who against Cromwell's advice has approached her incognito, and reacts badly. The witness is Cromwell's son Gregory (who has incidentally married Jane Seymour's sister); it's very well described. And the blow to Henry's ego because of the failure of the Anne of Cleves plan is enough to end Cromwell as well. His fall was suddent and dramatic: he was made Earl of Essex and Lord Chamberlain on 18 April, and three and a half months later he was dead. Really memorable stuff. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 8, 2020 |
This is the 3rd and final book of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy. After reading the first 2 you really have to read the 3rd. Of course we all know how it ends. What makes this trilogy compelling is getting into the head of Cromwell as conceived by Mantel. At 750 pages it is a slow slog but satisfying. The relationships between all of the players is fascinating. The influence of religion throughout the middle ages is overwhelming and of course a major impediment to the advancement that could have taken place with the free flow of information. That being said this is a book that is must for those who have read the 1st 2 books. For everyone else, I suggest starting with Wolf Hall and going through all 3 books. It is a worthwhile journey. ( )
1 vote nivramkoorb | Sep 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
She [Mantel] is still exuberantly rethinking what novels can do. Not since Bleak House has the present tense performed such magic. The narrative voice rides at times like a spirit or angel on thermals of vitality, catching the turning seasons, the rhythms of work and dreams, cities and kitchens and heartbeats.
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mantel, HilaryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Damsma, HarmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goretsky, TalCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Humphries, JulianDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kloska, JosephNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Löcher-Lawrence, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levavi, Meryl SussmanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miedema, NiekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, BenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Posthuma de Boer,TessaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sivenius, KaisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, BenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toebak, NanjaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Frèrès humains qui après nous vivez
N'ayez les cuers contre nous endurciz.

Brother men, you who live after us,
Do not harden your hearts against us.

François Villon

Look up and see the wind,
For we be ready to sail.

Noah's Flood, a miracle play.
Dedication
To Mary Robertson, in honour of enduring friendship
First words
Once the queen's head is severed, he walks away.
Quotations
There is a cushion cover on which she was working on a design, a deer running through foliage. Whether death interrupted her or just dislike of the work, she had left her needle in the cloth. Later some other hand - her mother's, or one of her daughter's - drew out the needle; but around the twin holes it left, the cloth had stiffened into brittle peaks, so that if you pass your finger over the path of her stitches - the path they would have taken - you can feel the bumps, like snags in the weave.
In Southwark, Brandon says, where his family have a great house and the glassmakers have their shops, they are at constant peril from the fires that blaze away when their kilns are opened. "Catch a wisp of straw," Brandon says, "and - the whole district goes up."
Well, at those temperatures, Cromwell thinks. A blacksmith's forge is dangerous, and smiths are always blackened and burned, but you don't find them pierced to the heart with their own product, or hurtling to their deaths from church towers, as glaziers do every day of the week.
Henry looks away.... "I have told you before this, how Pole's family laid a curse, after young Warwick was beheaded. My brother Arthur died at fifteen. My son Richmond at seventeen."
He writes, and he thinks no one reads; but friends of Lucifer look into his book. At dusk he locks his manuscript in a chest, but the devil has a key. Demons know every crossing-out amd every blot.His ink betrays him. The fibres in his paper are spies.
The women prick off, on papers they keep, the days when they expect their monthly courses.
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""If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?" England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith's son from Putney emerges from the spring's bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves. Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry's regime to the breaking point, Cromwell's robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him? With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man's vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion, and courage"--

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Haiku summary
A king and his man
manipulate the pieces.
The board shifts; heads fall.
(PeggyDean)

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