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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Hilary Mantel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,676479440 (3.98)4 / 1694
Title:Wolf Hall
Authors:Hilary Mantel
Info:Harpercollins Publishers Ltd (2009), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in 2012, historical fiction, england, henry viii, anne boleyn, thomas more, thomas cromwell

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 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. 113
    Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (zhejw)
  5. 91
    The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (ijustgetbored)
  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
    Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey (souloftherose)
  8. 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.
  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. 41
    Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (otherstories)
  11. 30
    Virgin and the Crab: Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the early life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor by Robert Parry (RochieRochel)
  12. 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.
  13. 20
    The Mirror and the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3) by Hilary Mantel (guurtjesboekenkast)
  14. 53
    Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom (brenzi)
    brenzi: Another book concerning the Henry VIII and Thomas Chromwell.
  15. 31
    The Marriage of Meggotta by Edith Pargeter (Osbaldistone)
  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 (467)  Dutch (4)  Swedish (3)  German (3)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (486)
Showing 1-5 of 467 (next | show all)
Well, finally I finished this tome. It wasn't so gripping as I suspected after reading all praises from lots of LTers. It's about Cromwell's promotion and how he will stop at nothing. It's about his enemies and his protegees. It's also the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. ( )
  Ameise1 | Nov 21, 2015 |
I truly enjoyed this book. It was intellectually challenging, which I loved. Like other reviewers, it took me awhile to realize that "He" always referred to Cromwell. That made the first few chapters confusing, but once I got the hang of it, it was pure Tudor history enjoyment. Most Tudor historical fiction is told from the point of view of the King, Queen, or other significant noble character. This was told from Thomas Cromwell's. He was a significant player, but far from noble.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I would not recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with the Henry VIII-Katherine of Aragon-Anne Boleyn story. It is not a good introductory book to this story. It seems that the author (perhaps because she is British) takes for granted that the reader is well versed in the characters and plot.

If you are a Tudor history lover, as I am, this is a must read. ( )
  stacykurko | Oct 29, 2015 |
In desperate need of a male heir to solidify the Tudor dynasty, King Henry VIII sought to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon so he could wed Anne Boleyn. As the Pope, for political reasons, would not grant the necessary dispensation, Henry's solution was to make the English church independent from Rome. A major player in these monumental events was Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith's son who rose to a position second in power in England only to the King himself. [return][return]Hilary Mantel tells the story of these turbulent times in the third person, but through Cromwell's eyes. The novel begins with a brief scene from Cromwell's harsh childhood in 1500, then shifts to 1527 when Cromwell is an adviser to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Cromwell manages to remain on good terms with Henry even as Wolsey incurs the King's disfavor. He adeptly transitions from his position as adviser to the Cardinal to a role as council to the King. Aristocrats who at first look upon the blacksmith's son with disdain soon grudgingly find him useful, then eventually accept his wise leadership. The novel ends in July 1535 when the execution of Sir Thomas More leaves Thomas Cromwell unchallenged and in full control of Henry's affairs.[return][return]Wolf Hall is a novel about people, not events. Late in the novel, Mantel states her thesis:[return][return]The fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes: a counter pushed across the table, a pen stroke that alters the force of a phrase, a woman's sigh as she passes and leaves on the air a trail of orange flower or rose water; her hand pulling close the bed curtains, the discreet sigh of flesh against flesh.[return][return]The dozens of characters in Wolf Hall each come convincingly alive: Anne Boleyn, seductive, vicious, but, above all, ambitious; her sister Mary Boleyn, laughing, promiscuous, and disarmingly honest; Sir Thomas More, worshiping himself as a martyr even before his death; and Henry himself, a vacillating overgrown adolescent with oversized appetites but the glimmerings of wisdom and humanity.[return][return]The novel sparkles with intelligent dialog and wit. It also gives some sense of the harshness of life when plagues were an almost annual event and public executions were considered entertainment. Most of all, however, it is a measured, convincing, and captivating look at "how the world changes." ( )
  Dolmance | Oct 28, 2015 |
A challenging read, with so many characters to remember, especially with the repetition of first names. There is a listing and description of the characters in the front of the book, but it's annoying to have to check. At times, the dialogue was hard to follow. That said, I learned a lot about the period and I was proud of myself for finishing in time for my bookclub's discussion. ( )
  ReluctantTechie | Oct 21, 2015 |
Beautifully written, fiercely intelligent, epic in scope, intimate in range, this is a note-perfect study in character and period, a compelling tale of the son of a brutal blacksmith who rises to the highest office in the land and sets about breaking down the old entrenched power structures and remaking a society in a more egalitarian fashion. That one of Thomas Cromwell's chief adversaries should be Thomas More, author of Utopia, is entirely apposite, and it is not unexpected that more romantic hindsight should cast him as a villain.

The tawdry soap opera of Henry VIII's second marriage becomes a painful, sometimes blackly comic, sometimes wrenching, always divisive political drama where lives are ruined and power shifts dramatically. But it is Cromwell's lively extended family and his affection for his boisterous household that keeps the story, and the character, grounded.

This won the Booker, and I'm slightly relieved after my previous Booker winner this year, The Sea The Sea, which certainly had its charms, but whose qualities as a year's best literary work escaped me, unless it was a particularly off year. Wolf Hall is superlative, a supreme achievement and a worthy winner. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 467 (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.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hilary Mantelprimary authorall 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, a
Complex figure: shrewd, clever,
Kind, loyal, witty.

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)

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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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