Title: Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell #1)
Author: Hilary Mantel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 1, 2010
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.
I love reading about English history. I especially like books written about Henry VIII and his wives. This book was great!
Since I love reading about this time period, I was familiar with a lot of the story. There were some interesting parts that I didn’t know, though. Whenever I read historical fiction, I find myself looking up things that happen in the story to find out if they really happened. There weren’t a lot of records kept for that time period, since it was hundreds of years ago, so I’m sure most of it is imagined, but it made a great story.
I found the writing difficult to follow at the beginning. Some of the dialogue was written without quotation marks, so it wasn’t easy to always recognize when someone was speaking. Another thing that was confusing was that the main character, Thomas Cromwell, was only referred to as “he” in the story, not by his name. Since most of the characters were men, it was confusing to figure out who exactly was talking sometimes.
I enjoyed this book! I’m looking forward to finishing the series.
What to read next:
Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell #2) by Hilary Mantel
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Other Books in the Series:
- Bring Up the Bodies
- The Mirror and the Light
Have you read Wolf Hall? What did you think of it?