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Wolf Hall (The Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #1) by Hilary Mantel - Review

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel traces Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in Henry VIII's court. Cromwell was essentially a nobody - a son of a blacksmith - who becomes Cardinal Wolsey's aide and a well-known lawyer, and eventually King Henry VIII's most trusted advisor. The story is primarily set between 1527 and 1535 as Cromwell, a proponent of the English Reformation, is working on Henry VIII's divorce from his first wife and union with Anne Boleyn.

This novel is an excellent work of historical fiction, to the point where you can almost forget it's a fictional account. It's thought-provoking, atmospheric, and commands your full attention. The cast of characters is broad, and well known to those knowledgeable on the Tudor court, but she has really succeeded in making Cromwell, often portrayed as a villain, her own and a sympathetic character at that.

Unfortunately, sometimes this novel is a little difficult to follow with the use constant use of "he" instead of names. It's hard to keep track of which character is speaking at any given time. It's also told from an unusual and sometimes jarring point of view.

I'll admit, I bumped this up on my reading list partially because I've been enjoying the PBS Masterpiece miniseries. I loved being able to find the scenes and dialog that appear in the show, sometimes even word-for-word. I don't often say this, but I actually prefer the adaptation. The casting, costuming, sets, direction, and even lighting make it well worth viewing, even if you couldn't get into the dense novel.

I sped through this novel between April 27 - 29, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.


  1. YES, YES, and YES! I thought the same thing when I read this book. It was good, but Mantel need to step away from pronouns. I haven't seen the miniseries yet, but it looks really good. If you decide to read the sequel, I think you'll like it better. It's easier to follow.

    1. I have a feeling that I will be coming back to Cromwell's world, so that's good to know. If you like the books I expect you will love the adaptation!

  2. I've definitely had my eye on this for awhile. I do like reading reviews, because I don't see many bloggers reviewing this. Might have to add it to the TBR!

  3. Really? I would have expected it to be popping up all over the place. Huh. I hope you check it out. I'm interested to hear what you think of it.

  4. This book and the sequel have been sitting on my shelf at home for ages now. It takes me two or three times as long to read a Tudor book than a horror book and this one is particularly big! I will get round to it eventually!

    1. And the print is quite small.... I really hope you like it!


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