Saturday, January 15, 2011

W is for Wolf Hall

This will be my last post for the 2010 Historical Tapestry Challenge.  I have scoured my bookshelves, my memory, and my reading lists, but I have never read a historical novel or author with the letters X, Y, or Z.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is definitely one of the best books I have ever read.  I can't stop recommending it to friends, family, and library patrons.  I passed my copy along to several people and bought copies as Christmas presents last year.  I've very glad that it has won several awards.  It's one of those books that I know I will reread over and over again.  The writing style is amazing.  I loved how Mantel made it feel like you really knew Cromwell and you were in his head with his thoughts.  Before I read Wolf Hall, I had always sort of disliked Cromwell (not hard, I know), but after reading this book, I found that I had quite a bit of sympathy for him and actually kind of liked him.  That's powerful writing!

Here's a review of the book from Amazon:

No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. The opening cast of characters and family trees may give initial pause to some readers, but persevere: the witty, whip-smart lines volleying the action forward may convince you a short stay in the Tower of London might not be so bad... provided you could bring a copy of Wolf Hall along.

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