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Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall

Book rating: 03 Paperback Fourth Estate

By (author) Hilary Mantel

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  • Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • Format: Paperback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 50mm | 500g
  • Publication date: 4 March 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007230206
  • ISBN 13: 9780007230204
  • Sales rank: 216

Product description

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009 'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.' 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, suffering and courage.

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Author information

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books , including A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, BEYOND BLACK, and the memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST. Her two most recent novels, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES, have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize - an unprecedented achievement.

Customer reviews

By Laurence May 26 Feb 2013 5

The title comes from the name of the Seymour family seat at Wolf Hall or Wulfhall in Wiltshire; the title's allusion to the old Latin saying "Man is wolf to man" serves as a constant reminder of the dangerously opportunistic nature of the world through which Cromwell navigates. None of the action occurs at Wolf Hall.

By Kate Sokulski 04 Feb 2011 1

I was really excited about reading this book as I love historical fiction and had heard great things about this title. However, I've just given up on it less than 1/4 way through. I'm an avid reader, but found I just couldn't get in to the writing style at all or identify with the characters. The storyline seemed to skip all over the place and the way dialogue was written was confusing. I was sorely disapointed!

By Penny Cunningham 17 Jun 2010 5

Having read the 3 reviews already on site, there is not much more to add, they are all great reviews.
I really did enjoy the book about the rise of Thomas Cromwell from an abused little boy beaten constantly by his father,to the powerful political advisor at the court of Henry VIII. Although the strange writing style made it a book you had to concentrate on because if your mind wandered at all you had to re-read a paragraph or two to see what you had missed! The dialogue (to my mind) was very modern, not at all as they would have spoken at the time!! It did however keep it interesting.
As Michael says you do not really know Cromwell any better at the end of the book than you did at the start! But the journey to the end I found very interesting. I am not sure quite why it was called "Wolf Hall" as this was the family home of Jane Seymour, who is mentioned but is by no means a cornerstone of the story! (Maybe I missed something and didn't re-read!!)
As Fiona says I am not sure about it being a winner though, it was good but not everyones cup of tea because of the writing style. But overall I found it a very good read.

Review quote

'This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers.' Olivia Laing, Observer 'As soon as I opened the book I was gripped. I read it almost non-stop. When I did have to put it down, I was full of regret that the story was over, a regret I still feel. This is a wonderful and intelligently imagined retelling of a familiar tale from an unfamiliar angle.' The Times 'Mantel is a writer who sees the skull beneath the skin, the worm in the bud, the child abuse in the suburbs and the rat in the mattress...Turning her attention to Tudor England, she makes that world at once so concrete you can smell the rain-drenched wool cloaks...This is a splendidly ambitious book...I wait greedily for the sequel, but "Wolf Hall" is already a feast.' Daily Telegraph 'A compelling and humane investigation of the cost of ambition.' Guardian 'Mantel's ability to pick out vivid scenes from sources and give them life within her fiction is quite exceptional...Vividly alive.' London Review of Books 'A stunning book. It breaks free of what the novel has become nowadays. I can't think of anything since "Middlemarch" which so convincingly builds a world.' Diana Athill