Posted by at 31/10/2011 16:16:34
Prize winning author Hilary Mantel has given us a stunning novel, following the rise of hard man Thomas Cromwell, from his lowly background to chief advisor at the court of Henry the Eighth. Cromwell’s character has been redeemed by this novel. From the ‘bad boy’ of the Tudor court to someone with integrity, intellect, a man of the enlightenment…a ‘Mr Fix-It’.
The first part of the novel is built around the strong relationship between Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey. Cromwell was a loyal servant to Wolsey and looked up to him as a father figure. However when Wolsey failed to deliver what the king wanted - namely a divorce from Katherine, he is disgraced, falls from power and dies in tragic circumstances. His death marks a new chapter for Cromwell. With diplomacy and logic he survives. His talents are recognized by the king and his rise is meteoric. He becomes a loyal and trusted employee to Henry and it was very unusual at the time to have someone of a low birth in such a position of power.
The second part of the novel covers Cromwell as the main man at court. His most important task is clearing the way for the King’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. For this to succeed he has to take on parliament, the political establishment and the papacy.
A list of characters at the beginning and a family tree helps to prevent confusion. However I feel it would be useful to know some of the historical background of the period before you read Wolf Hall. Hilary Mantel deservedly won the 2009 Booker Prize for this breath taking portrayal of the brutal dark times of the Tudor Period. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Available as a book
Available as a spoken word MP3/Playaway
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