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.
I LOVE historical fiction and I am more than familiar with English History, but this book is too dense, filled with long descriptions and side-bar information to absorb in a single "hearing" on audio. Don't even think about multi-tasking while listening ... unless you really don't care if you don't understand relationships at the end of the day. I have listened to chapters 1 - 5 multiple times each, just to fix the various relationships in my mind. The story is fascinating, but for me -- it would be better served up in print, or, if presented by a troupe of actors who could put some individual personality behind the characters.
No, that is one of the problems that has created my initial comment. I've "read' many books, fiction and non-fiction on audio. Some readers are better than others but this voice is flat, not descriptive and down-right boring. He does nothing to differentiate one character from another, not even an ageing male from a young woman .....It is hard to understand why the audio version was released in this way, the story is too good to fall victim to a bad narrator. Moreover, tthere are many splendid narrators at Tandor and Brilliance to indicated that there is not a derth of talent.
King Henry -- why not -- he is the instigator behind the tragedy.
I have many audio books in my personal library. This is the first time I've considered putting an audio version down before finishing the "book". This will not dissuade me for ordering again, but it was not a good way to start a relationship with Audible.com
I have always loved reading. I have MS now. Reading is not as easy for me. I love audio books. I really love long books with great narrators
I loved listening to this book. I actually think listening made this book more enjoyable than it would have been to just read it. The narration to me was perfect. I loved the different voices he used, it made it easy to follow. This book made me feel like I could have been there at court. History came alive for me listening to this book. Thank you Hilary Mantel and Simon Slater.
Cromwell. Because like myself he came from severe abuse. I understood many of the reasons that he thought the way he did. I love that he has many layers to him. I liked the way he took a bad childhood and made himself the best he could with what he had to work with. HE is not perfect and never says he is. He is always striving trying to be better than what he came from.
No. I thought he was outstanding and would love to hear more of his work.
Off with King Henry's head!
Listening to this book made me think on a deep level. I found myself thinking that things that happened 500 years ago, because a king, wanted a new wife changed our lives even to this day. I wonder if religion and politics would have changed so much, if not for this one desire of a king?
I like the print version, too, but there is something captivating about the audio version and I can't stop listening to it. Each time through, I catch something new. I think the audio version also helps with the prose style, since it's easier to tell who is speaking.
I bought this book because it covers a period of history in which I'm interested and had won the Mann Booker award but was so disappointed with the narrator that I abandoned it after several determined tries to get through it. The book consists of rapid switches of dialogue between various people, settings, and time periods and since the narrator rarely varied his voice to identify different speakers -- or when he did, it wasn't a consistent voice for the same person -- and failed to pause for a moment to signal a change of setting or time period, I eventually became fed up with it and moved on to another book.
Maybe to read, but not to listen to, at least not if read by this narrator.
It covers an extremely interesting historical period.
This is one of those books that is great to read... and even better when performed by Slater.
The story includes many characters and Slater manages to give them each a unique voice which really helps to not get lost in this saga of King Henry.
too long to read
Explained in an enjoyable way they complicated relationships of this time
haven gotten there yet
The Devil is in the Details.
The story moves slowly, with relatively little "action" but a lot of the inner workings of one man's mind. It's the performance the kept me going - it's brilliant, with really nuanced differences among the characters so I could tell which person was which in an instant. Brilliant performance, truly.
My main quibble is that the mastering doesn't have any pause between sections or chapters, so when listening, it take a minute to realize the scene has shifted, sometimes quite dramatically (different years, different characters.)