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Wolf Hall (2009)

by Hilary Mantel

Other authors: Hege Mehren (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wolf Hall Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,209621431 (3.99)6 / 2177
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.
  1. 141
    Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (gypsysmom)
  2. 144
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: This is another excellent British historical novel.
  3. 100
    The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George (napaxton)
  4. 123
    Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (zhejw)
  5. 101
    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. 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. 41
    Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey (souloftherose)
  9. 52
    Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (otherstories)
  10. 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.
  11. 31
    Virgin and the Crab: Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the early life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor by Robert Parry (RochieRochel)
  12. 20
    The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (guurtjesboekenkast)
  13. 21
    The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd (napaxton)
  14. 10
    Rizzio by Denise Mina (hazzabamboo)
  15. 32
    The Marriage of Meggotta by Edith Pargeter (Osbaldistone)
  16. 21
    Hild by Nicola Griffith (wandering_star)
  17. 21
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This is another book that really brings a period of history to life around you.
  18. 22
    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 25 recommendations)

To Read (73)

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English (606)  Dutch (6)  German (4)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (626)
Showing 1-5 of 606 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
  nagasravika.bodapati | Aug 7, 2022 |
Wolf Hall. Hilary Mantel. (Book one of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy) 2009. Even though, I have always enjoyed books on Tudor history, this one got a little tedious. At 600 plus pages, it takes a commitment. It is extremely well-written as it should be since it won the Man Booker Prize. It is the story of Thomas Cromwell and his rise to power as he helps Henry VIII break with the Catholic Church so he can marry Anne Boleyn. All the characters are here including Wolsey, More, and Katherine of Aragon. This is a vivid, sensual depiction of Tudor England. ( )
  judithrs | Jun 25, 2022 |
I don't know anything about Tudor England. That made it difficult. ( )
  MaryJeanPhillips | Jun 22, 2022 |
This has been worst reading stretch I have ever had. Going to make average rating for this year horrible. Due to all the Do Not Finishes, will make the number of books read look good - maybe? This book had characters that had too many names: their real name, a British title (Duke of....), job (Cardinal, King, Queen, etc), and sometimes a pronoun - he, the main character. Annoying. I couldn't get into the time period switches. Oh well, on to the next book.
11,903 members; 3.99 average rating: 4/30/2022 ( )
  mainrun | May 29, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 606 (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 (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mantel, Hilaryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mehren, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bridge, AndyIllustratie Omslagsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simon SlaterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simon VanceNarratorsecondary 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. 27 B.C.
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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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.

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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.
A court of bared fangs,
Who will survive the scheming,
In this hall of wolves?

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