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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
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Wolf Hall (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Hilary Mantel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,311543466 (3.98)4 / 1844
Member:adamtyoung
Title:Wolf Hall
Authors:Hilary Mantel
Info:Picador (2010), Edition: 0, Paperback, 604 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Unfinished

Work details

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

  1. 131
    Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (gypsysmom)
  2. 143
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: This is another excellent British historical novel.
  3. 90
    The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George (napaxton)
  4. 91
    The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (ijustgetbored)
  5. 113
    Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (zhejw)
  6. 70
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (souci)
    souci: A look at the machinations behind the throne as England passes out of placid Catholicism moving fitfully and violently towards Protestantism.
  7. 50
    Henry VIII by J. J. Scarisbrick (robeik)
    robeik: Somewhat academic, but chock-full of detail on Henry's divorce proceedings from Catherine and the Roman Catholic Church.
  8. 40
    Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey (souloftherose)
  9. 41
    Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund (bell7)
    bell7: Both biographical novels explore well-known historical events through the eyes of one sympathetic character close to the action.
  10. 30
    Virgin and the Crab: Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the early life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor by Robert Parry (RochieRochel)
  11. 53
    Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom (brenzi)
    brenzi: Another book concerning the Henry VIII and Thomas Chromwell.
  12. 20
    The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (guurtjesboekenkast)
  13. 20
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This is another book that really brings a period of history to life around you.
  14. 31
    The Marriage of Meggotta by Edith Pargeter (Osbaldistone)
  15. 42
    Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (otherstories)
  16. 20
    The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd (napaxton)
  17. 10
    The Corn King and the Spring Queen by Naomi Mitchison (Anonymous user)
  18. 21
    Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd (guurtjesboekenkast)
  19. 00
    Hild by Nicola Griffith (wandering_star)
  20. 22
    A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury by Edith Pargeter (ansate)
    ansate: Different time period, but another fantastically written historical novel

(see all 24 recommendations)

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English (537)  Dutch (6)  Swedish (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (557)
Showing 1-5 of 537 (next | show all)
The is a great book, justified winner of the Orange/Man Booker prize, and it was on every critics' best of 2009 list. I wish I had more background info into the Tudor years (should have watched Jonathan Rhys-Meyer on HBO) My reason for not giving this 5 stars is that it is a really, really tough read. The author felt it unnecessary to make it clear WHO was talking!! So confusing!! Plus everyone is named Henry, Thomas or Harry, and there is a 4 page list of characters to keep track of, as well as 2 full pages of genealogy. And that doesn't cover everyone. Each character is referred to by at least 2, if not 4 different names, and it goes on...nonetheless, it is worth the effort! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Just when you think you have heard the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII so many times that you might have been there yourself, you get this wonderful opportunity to view the events through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell and the story is new again. Hilary Mantel is so skilled at drawing us toward Cromwell that we feel we are walking in his shoes while we watch him shape the times in service to a complicated king.

Here is a picture of Cardinal Wolsey that humanizes him, which is something I have not encountered in the telling of the story before. Cromwell himself is generally a background figure, while Mantel brings him front and center and shows that without Cromwell behind him, Henry might not have managed his transition from the king in need of a divorce to the head of the Church of England. As in all stories of this time, you can feel the precariousness of any man's position and the difficulty of carefully balancing so that you do not end up among the beheaded or tortured.

Was there ever a more interesting and complex man than Henry VIII? He can be painted as simply cruel, but there is so much more at work in him. He needs a son to tie his kingdom together with some permanence and avoid another series of wars like the ones that preceded the Tudor reign. Holding a kingdom is so precarious a job. How tiring it must have been, even among all that privilege, to be the king and have all that weight upon your shoulders. How much easier to take a life when all you need do is decide and then leave every nasty detail up to others. Cromwell is the antithesis of Henry, being the man who must look the doomed in the eye and deliver the sentence.

I am a great lover of historical fiction when done well, and I would venture to say that it has seldom been done as well as this. I am pleased it is only the first of three volumes, because I know that I have all the joy to look forward to in reading the other two. How delightful to know that I will see an old and familiar story in a completely new light. It is sort of like finding a new version of an old fairytale. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I know this was a huge bestseller, soon to be either a movie or TV series. I dug deep into English history both in high school and college so none of the plot here was particularly fresh. That left me with making the decision on whether the writing style was compelling enough to keep me reading to the end. It wasn't. ( )
  abycats | May 11, 2018 |
This was a real slog. I stuck with it because of the audio performance. ( )
  cindiann | May 3, 2018 |
I love historical fiction and I enjoyed this author's book, Fludd, but I couldn't get past 10% of Wolf Hall. For me, there was something stilted or affected about the writing style that I found so off-putting that I had to give up. A number of Amazon reviewers have said the same thing. Some, including me, were put off by the author's continually referring to Cromwell as "he" during dialogue parts. The problem is that it is often difficult to be sure who "he" is - Cromwell or someone he is talking to. You might say "Couldn't you have overlooked such minor quirks?" I say no because I believe in the old maximum that the writer should be invisible. Some writers seem to like to seem literary so they use style gimmicks to come across as original. I prefer more authentic, natural writing styles. ( )
  MitchMcCrimmon | Apr 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 537 (next | show all)
Hilary Mantel sets a new standard for historical fiction with her latest novel Wolf Hall, a riveting portrait of Thomas Cromwell, chief advisor to King Henry VIII and a significant political figure in Tudor England. Mantel’s crystalline style, piercing eye and interest in, shall we say, the darker side of human nature, together with a real respect for historical accuracy, make this novel an engrossing, enveloping read.
added by clamairy | editBookPage, Lauren Bufferd (Mar 2, 2011)
 
hard to read but enjoyable
added by AAGP | editSlate Audio Book Club (Mar 15, 2010)
 
A sequel is plainly in view, as we are given glimpses of the rival daughters who plague the ever-more-gross monarch’s hectic search for male issue. The ginger-haired baby Elizabeth is mainly a squalling infant in the period of the narrative, which chiefly covers the years 1527–35, but in the figure of her sibling Mary, one is given a chilling prefiguration of the coming time when the bonfires of English heretics will really start to blaze in earnest. Mantel is herself of Catholic background and education, and evidently not sorry to be shot of it (as she might herself phrase the matter), so it is generous of her to show the many pettinesses and cruelties with which the future “Bloody Mary” was visited by the callous statecraft and churchmanship of her father’s court. Cromwell is shown trying only to mitigate, not relieve, her plight. And Mary’s icy religiosity he can forgive, but not More’s. Anyone who has been bamboozled by the saccharine propaganda of A Man for All Seasons should read Mantel’s rendering of the confrontation between More and his interlocutors about the Act of Succession, deposing the pope as the supreme head of the Church in England.
 
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.
 
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... [It] is both spellbinding and believable.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hilary Mantelprimary authorall editionscalculated
slater, simonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willems, IneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'There are three kinds of scenes, one called the tragic, second the comic, third the satyric. Their decorations are different and unlike each other in scheme. Tragic scenes are delineated with columns, pediments, statues and other objects suited to kings; comic scenes exhibit private dwellings, with balconies and views representing rows of windows, after the manner of ordinary dwellings; satyric scenes are decorated with trees, caverns, mountains and other rustic objects delineated in landscape style.' Vitruvius, De Architectura, on the theatre, c.27BC
Dedication
To my singular friend Mary Robertson this be given.
First words
"So now get up."

Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned towards the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.
Quotations
The Cardinal, a Bachelor of Arts at fifteen, a Bachelor of Theology by his mid-twenties, is learned in the law but does not like its delays; he cannot quite accept that real property cannot be changed into money, with the same speed and ease with which he changes a wafer into the body of Christ.
"You're sweeter to look at than the cardinal", he says. - "That's the smallest compliment a woman ever received."
It is surprising how international is the language of old men, swapping tips on salves for aches, commiserating with petty wretchedness and discussing the whims and demands of their wives.
"Tell us, Master Cromwell, you've been abroad. Are they particularly an ungrateful nation? It seems to me that they like change for the sake of it?" - "I don't think it's the English. I think it's just people. They always hope there may be something better."
Christ, he thinks, by my age I ought to know. You don't get on by being original. You don't get on by being bright. You don't get on by being strong. You get on by being a subtle crook; somehow he thinks that's what Norris is, and he feels an irrational dislike taking root, and he tries to dismiss it, because he prefers his dislikes rational.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary
How many Thomases?
How many Annes? Enough for
A Reformation?
(thorold)
Hilary Mantel's
character resurrection
of Thomas Cromwell.
(passion4reading)
Fast-paced, well-written
political thriller. Twist?
Set in Tudor times.
(passion4reading)
Thomas Cromwell: from
historical figure to
man of flesh and blood.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805080686, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. The opening cast of characters and family trees may give initial pause to some readers, but persevere: the witty, whip-smart lines volleying the action forward may convince you a short stay in the Tower of London might not be so bad... provided you could bring a copy of Wolf Hall along. --Anne Bartholomew

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:44 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter's efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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