Hilary Mantel is very good at telling a story. This piece of historical fiction tells the infamous tale of Henry the Eighth and Ann Boleyn from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, Henry's personal Secretary. Full of pertinent dates and real events to spice up the narrative, we learn of Cromwell's humble origins, his loves and finally his service first to Cardinal Woolsey and then to the King. We are anxiously awaiting the Third Part to this compelling history.
There was times that I could not put this book down. I listened to it while I cooked, cleaned, drove around. I love historical fiction and have always been a fan of the Tudors. I originally tried to read the actual book but it was really long so with work and kids I didn't get a chance to sit and read it , but this story is one you can forget yourself in
I enjoyed the inner thoughts of Thomas Cromwell. I felt like I really got to know him as a man, his background and past, the love of his family and his wards. The most memorable moment is his last night with his wife Liz
He really did a good job giving all the characters their individual voice, a little over the top at times, but captivating
I wouldn't want to make a film of this story, because so much of what I liked about the book were Thomas's thoughts, memories and wit. It would be so hard to capture
I'm hooked on Hilary Mantel. She is the most descriptive writer without getting too long worded. I felt like I was right there in the midst of it all
While it is hard to imagine, I was sorry to have this book end, even after 24 hours of narration. And that was even more surprising because, like others, I had a hard time in the beginning of the story becoming engaged. I needed some time to hear the rhythm of Simon Slater's voice and sort through the characters, but very soon I was engrossed in both the story and the performance. I found myself stealing away to listen more to the story and couldn't wait until my next session with Simon as Cromwell, Henry, and the rest of the characters. The story is the perfect balance between fiction and history. I learned a lot about Henry and the period that he seeks a divorce from Catherine, but was never bored. I do wish I had printed out the list of characters - it would help with following the story. I highly recommend this selection. I am only disappointed that there wasn't other books narrated by Simon Slater that I am interested in.
This is a wonderful audio book with a masterful narration. I have listened to this audible book over and over. The story is compelling and well-told. No special knowledge of the historical events described is necessary to understand and enjoy this recording. I was so intrigued by this story that I also read the book and the sequel. Excellent all around.
I recently changed my lengthy commute to a much shorter one and I am now sorry. Listening to this tale was so absorbing that I found myself sitting in the parking lot, and outside my own house, because I did not want to stop listening. The performance brings all of the characters to life.
The reader of Wolf Hall uses a lugubrious tone, falling depressively on the end of each line.This is unfortunate since not all of the story is sad! I notice they changed the reader for the second in the series, "Bring Up the Bodies." I was enough put off by the reading style that I read the second in ebook form.
I could not get through this audiobook. I hope to return to it eventually, but I think it may be a book that is best when read. There are way too many names to keep track of while listening. I like to listen to my audiobooks while walking around or during my commute. I found that this book required too much focus that I kept feeling lost and going back to previous chapters. It would have been much easier to have the book in front of me. I wish this was a more enjoyable audiobook, because it sounds like a great story and I hear the followup book is fantastic.
I've read (really "read" not "listened to") Wolf Hall twice -- first when it was released and again when Bring Up The Bodies was released so that it would be fresh when I read the sequel. I know that this is some of the most magnificent writing currently being produced and I already know I love the book.
But oh boy, listening to it being ready by Simon Slater is SUCH a treat! It's not like he's "putting on" voices or characters, or "acting". It's like he's channeling these words in the voice that Mantel heard in her head when she was writing. His Wolsey is so perfect. He gets all the inflections right without (so far) a stumble of any kind.
I'm very very impressed with this reader and I'm so glad this is such a long book, because the only other books he has read are "... for dummies" guides and I just feel his great talent must be wasted on those.
Listening to this book is like having a magnificent dinner and watching your favorite movie at the same time.
Likes books and reading/listening
Narrative structure didnt seem super compelling, but I did enjoy the very vivid vignettes that included the weather, what people wore, what they were thinking about, what they were worried about. The lector was superb, too.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
When a subject matter has been mined for story like the court of Henry VIII has, distinguishing yourself amongst the crowd is key. I still hold Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII as the gold standard, but Hilary Mantel gives us a perspective we rarely consider: that of Thomas Cromwell. That alone singles this work out and adds to the tapestry of all that's come before.
Cromwell is usually seen as a pitiless figure, and his due is rarely acknowledged, but Mantel paints an amazing portrait of a man who really does bring more to the story than most would otherwise give him credit. Not only are his skills brought in bearing, but so too is his personality, based on the facts of what we know about him. From a historical standpoint, Mantel's attention to detail is excellent, and she seems to have a gift for extrapolating people from cold facts. We get a look at Henry, the Boleyns, Woolsey, More, and all the rest through Cromwell's perspective, and while it's as pragmatic as you might expect, it's also quite insightful. At least, it is to me.
For readers being introduced to this era, I would suggest starting with Margaret George or perhaps with Alison Weir's biographies. This work assumes the reader is familiar with the power players and has a good bead on the basics. For those who are familiar with the story, this book provides another layer that offers what most people didn't know they missed. I'm looking forward to the next in the series, Bringing Up the Bodies.