Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: WOLF HALL, by Hillary Mantell

Wolf HallWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story of Thomas Cromwell, who rose from poverty to become one of Henry VIII's most trusted advisers. Most accounts treat Cromwell as a ruthless, conniving bastard, but this book doesn't allow for such an easy judgment. Cromwell is many things: scheming but loyal, clear-eyed and seemingly cold in matters of business but tender towards his family, friends and household, like a medieval Godfather.

The characterization is fascinating, not just of Cromwell, but of Henry and the various members of his court, especially the beguiling Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary. The prose is also nearly hypnotic in its beauty. On the downside, the plot moves slowly, and I confess there were times I had to push through to the finish, but the book is worth the effort. 

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