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The Mirror and the Light (2020)

by Hilary Mantel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wolf Hall Trilogy (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8543017,582 (4.37)125
""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)

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» See also 125 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Lengthy -and sad- it is the sudden "fall" of Cromwell but so well written, & a great imagining of this amazing Rennaissance man's life, thought, viewpt. ( )
  BDartnall | Jul 7, 2020 |
THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT by Hilary Mantel is the stunning conclusion to the Wolf Hall Trilogy.
Award-winning and exquisitely written, this unparalleled work is a masterpiece of complex personalities, intrigue and conscience.
WOLF HALL, BRING UP THE BODIES and now, THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT, give us an intimate view of Thomas Cromwell and his service to both Cardinal Wolsey and Tudor King Henry VIII.
Absolutely not to be missed. ***** ( )
  diana.hauser | Jun 29, 2020 |
The third volume in Mantel’s Wolf Hall Trilogy takes up the last four years of Thomas Cromwell’s life for over 700 pages. Anne Boleyn dies. Jane Seymour dies. Anne of Cleves manages an amicable divorce. And through it all, Cromwell plods on fulfilling the king’s whims, running England, and becoming disillusioned with his life.
This is a fascinating read about Tudor England and how an ambitious man finally reaches too high. Dense, colorful prose flows from a sure-handed author inviting the reader to smell the sewage and taste the food. ( )
  Sandra_Wagner-Wright | Jun 27, 2020 |
All I can say is whewwwww! I've been reading this for about 2 months. I read the other two books in the trilogy and I don't remember being in a slog while reading them. However, in this book, I'm in a slog for about the first 500 pages, but then the last 300 went really fast. I was constantly confused with the wide cast of characters and how they related to Cromwell, Henry VIII, Katharine, Anne, Jane or Anne of Cleves. And then top that off with nicknames for everybody and it was quite a few people to remember. (Such as Thomas Howard, sometimes called The Duke of Norfolk, sometimes called Thomas, like Thomas Cromwell! Such as Mary Shelton, Boleyn cousin, also called just Mary, as Mary I often was, also.) I'm not sure if this was because I read the other two books in 2018 and it's been awhile or not. That being said, as a historian, I love those Tudors! Since this was supposed to be a book focusing on Cromwell, I would have preferred to see more on Anne of Cleves, which was the real reason for Cromwell's downfall (IMHO) and less on Jane. All that being said, I did enjoy the book, even if I think it was a bit longer than needed. 764 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Jun 26, 2020 |
Hillary Mantel will surely win the Booker Prize trifecta with this final volume in her trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell. Anyone with a passing knowledge of English history knows how this one is going to turn out, but Mantel's prose seeps the reader into the plots, intrigues, and jealousies that swirled around and through the court of Henry VIII. This is one hell of a read. ( )
  etxgardener | Jun 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (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 (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mantel, HilaryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Löcher-Lawrence, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
To Mary Robertson, in honour of enduring friendship
First words
Once the queen's head is severed, he walks away.
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.
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Haiku summary
A king and his man
manipulate the pieces.
The board shifts; heads fall.

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