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Wolf Hall: A Novel by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Hilary Mantel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,413517368 (3.98)4 / 1763
Title:Wolf Hall: A Novel
Authors:Hilary Mantel
Info:Picador (2010), Edition: First Picador Edition First Printing, Paperback, 604 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Booker Prize, Historical fiction

Work details

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

  1. 121
    Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (gypsysmom)
  2. 143
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel 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. 40
    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. 22
    A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury by Edith Pargeter (ansate)
    ansate: Different time period, but another fantastically written historical novel
  20. 22
    The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt (kidzdoc)

(see all 23 recommendations)


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English (510)  Dutch (4)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  English (528)
Showing 1-5 of 510 (next | show all)
I thought this was excellent. A brilliant retelling of Thomas Cromwell and his relationship with Henry VIII, Thomas More, Anne Boleyn. I am not a huge fan of the historical novel, but I loved this - Mantel has a razor sharp style and she is so good at creating the atmospheric details without devlving into fluff. She is also so good at depiction cruelty - the Tudors are a good subject for her.

I eagerly await the sequel. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This historical fiction book takes place in the 1520's England. It has a volatile King Henry VIII, an opportunist Thomas Cromwell, and a feisty Anne Boleyn.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Nov 13, 2016 |
This was more of a slog than I anticipated, although I suspect I'm in the minority and had more to do with my energy level - her language demands close attention. Plus, after bringing on the Tudors in my late teens I've had little patience for any kind of narrative that concerns them (I still haven't seen Blanchett's Elizabeth for example), but I thought that Mantel's re-visioning of Cromwell was worth the effort. Her portrait was too positive with only hints at what makes a man that successful (and at what costs), but I willing to go along and enjoy my time with Cromwell. I was also completely taken with Mantel's use of language - I adored her bit on Cromwell's metonymies - and her insistence on keeping religious persecution in the forefront. ( )
  mkunruh | Nov 13, 2016 |
Five hundred some pages and engrossing, every one. It'd be perfect if the author had bothered to keep her antecedents clear. Didn't the editor or anyone else notice the sloppy and annoying use of "he"? There are readers who're going to give up in disgust at both the muddle and the fact that no one cared enough about the reader to clear it up.

I loved the book and can't wait to read the next one. Mantel does an amazing job of making sense of all the characters and personalities. I've never been unusually interested in Henry VIII, let along in his councilors, but I was fairly sucked in to a very vivid world. ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 16, 2016 |
This account of Thomas Cromwell's life - one could almost call it a fictitious biography as there's not one scene that he's not a part of - starts when he's a boy, receiving yet another beating at the hands of his father, and ends with Henry's progress in 1535, with Cromwell planning a detour to Wolf Hall, the seat of the Seymour family.

This is by far the best of Hilary Mantel's books I've read so far, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who's unfamiliar with her work; her writing style does need a little getting used to, but after a while it is possible to just read over the ubiquitous 'he' and enjoy the plotting and, especially, the portrayal of individual characters. Everyone in the book comes alive in her capable hands, and some of the characterisations are rather surprising, but feel true nevertheless: Thomas Cromwell as a kind and considerate family man, Henry VIII as a man wracked by insecurities, and Anne Boleyn as a scheming and calculating woman, for example. Hilary Mantel's prose is hauntingly beautiful at times, and the phrases she puts into their mouths (particularly the colourful curses) often made me smile. She manages to evoke the changeable and turbulent times to such a degree that it felt like watching a film, if it hadn't been for the physical action of turning the pages. Impeccably researched, it did feel a little too long (no wonder, at over 600 pages), and one would probably have to read the book several times to pick up every one of her historical references and allegories. Despite its numerous critics, I consider reading it time well spent, and I look forward to Bring Up the Bodies. ( )
  passion4reading | Oct 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 510 (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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'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
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.
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.
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Book description
Haiku summary
How many Thomases?
How many Annes? Enough for
A Reformation?
Hilary Mantel's
character resurrection
of Thomas Cromwell.
Fast-paced, well-written
political thriller. Twist?
Set in Tudor times.
Thomas Cromwell: from
historical figure to
man of flesh and blood.

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)

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