Wolf Hall

by Hilary Mantel | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9781554687732 Global Overview for this book
Registered by HoserLauren of Burlington, Ontario Canada on 11/14/2009
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Saturday, November 14, 2009
Received as a birthday gift.

From Chapters:
England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

Journal Entry 2 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Sunday, April 11, 2010
During the reign of King Henry VIII, there was one very influential figure that played a prominent role in the crowning of Queen Anne Boleyn: Thomas Cromwell. Wolf Hall focuses on Cromwell's background and his time at court during the height of the Boleyn rule. There's a large cast of characters to explain how Cromwell went from being the son of an abusive blacksmith, to a soldier for the French, to a money trader, to an adviser of Cardinal Wolsley, to finally one of the most powerful men in England.

It's hard to tell how much of this novel is from actual accounts and how much is made up, but Mantel does a good job of portraying Cromwell as a brilliant, yet emotionally distant man. Cromwell obviously cares strongly for his family but he finds a way to detach himself from work. You can't help but think that if Cromwell lived in current times he would be one of the guys that gets away with the downfall of a major company like Enron or AIG because of his mischievous ways.

Due to the fact that there are so many characters in this novel, if you have a background in the area (my background was only watching The Tudors and having read another book or two in the same time) you'll find things much easier to remember. Even with some knowledge of the characters, I still found it hard to determine who was speaking to who and what subject they were talking about. For this reason, it took quite a while for me to get into the book.

The book goes up to Thomas More's trial for refusing to take an oath of Boleyn's heirs and that Katherine was no longer Queen. I would have liked it to go up to Cromwell's downfall, and think it could have if it hadn't dwelled on less important points. When I picked this book up I was really looking forward to it but overall found it mildly disappointing.

Journal Entry 3 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Thursday, May 13, 2010
Mailed off today to Portugal from the historical fiction swap!

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