Book Review: Wolf Hall

30.8.10

Hello!

After collecting interviews for my In the Spotlight: Get to know your bloggers feature, it seems that the best bit of advice for new bloggers is to blog about things that you love.  I love, love, LOVE to read (so much so that Mr B calls me BW [Book Worm] rather than my actual name) and thought that perhaps it would be an interesting regular post to include on here.

The book I've just finished is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Following the success of historical fiction such as Gregory's 'The Other Boleyn Girl', Mantel "brings the opulent, brutal world of the Tudors to bloody, glittering life."  Quite a tagline right?  It focuses on the life of Thomas Cromwell (the guy who ultimately managed to get Henry VIII his divorce from Katherine of Aragon) from son of an abusive blacksmith to his role as Earl of Essex.  David Starkey has described Cromwell as "Alastair Campbell with an axe" and it seems that Mantel's aim was to make us reassess that description.

Right, so now onto the book itself.  It's difficult to read.  I anticipate that these historical books will be a bit heavy-going but this was beyond that.  One very strange thing is that Mantel rarely mentions Cromwell by name - it's always "he".  Which, as you can imagine, gets very confusing in scenes containing multiple male characters.  Luckily I'd read about this in a book review before I purchased Wolf Hall so I knew what to expect, but I can imagine that having not know that piece of information beforehand it would have been a complete mind-twister!

I have to admit that when I said "the book I've just finished..." I was bending the truth slightly.  Ok a lot.  Because I haven't finished Wolf Hall and even to me, that is just unacceptable.  No matter how bad the book is I refuse to put it down in the hope that it'll get better, or even just so that I don't disappoint myself.  Silly, I know, but there you have it!  I had to give up on this book 50 pages from the end.  As you can see from the picture it's a mammoth read of 650 pages....650!!!  And I'm sure I would have been still reading this book in a month if I'd chosen to finish it.  You see girls, it's very dry (a bit like this review I'm thinking....perhaps not the best book to start this feature off with?!).  After about 300 pages I realised that Cromwell isn't as bad as history would have us believe.  I started to wonder why we hadn't heard more of his personal life, where he took in people to his household and educated them, where he adopts his sister's children following her death from the plague.  My eyes have been opened to another side of him now.....I don't need another 350 pages about it!!  And the worst part?  This book isn't even the whole story.  Oh no, there's a sequel.  In fact, this book only goes up to the night of the death of Thomas More.  There's much more to find out in the next book.

But will I be reading it?  I doubt it.  I really commited myself to this book, and as a person who doesn't give up, I was gutted when I had to admit defeat.

Overall, the best summary of Thomas Cromwell is found on page 465:
"When the cardinal [Woolsey] came to a closed door he would flatter it - oh beautiful yielding door!  Then he would try tricking it open.  And you are just the same.... But in the last resort, you just kick it in"

This book succeeds in re-educating us in the life of Cromwell, but this didn't have to be dragged out for 650 pages + another book.  If you love The Tudors on BBC2 (with the yummy Henry Cavill as the Duke of Suffolk) and you're made of stronger stuff than me, then perhaps you'll enjoy this book.  Give it a go if my review hasn't completely put you off....but I'd suggest getting it from a library rather than going out to buy the book.  Spend your money on make up instead!

Has anyone read this book already?  What did you think?  And what's the verdict ladies?  Would you like to see another book review?  I promise the book I'm reading now is more interesting!

T x

4 comments

  1. lovely blog! and i have to say your profile picture is really beautiful. :) hope you will become a follower of my blog too?
    xoxo

    http://theonlyfashionprincess.blogspot.com

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  2. I love that you are blogging about your passions, I dont think I could ever write a book review myself but I love your post :)

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  3. @ fashionprincess - I tried to follow but it all crashed?!

    @ Katie - thanks, glad you liked it! If people like this it'll become a regular thing I think!

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  4. great post fellow reader great review

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