This is one of the best books I've ever listened to.
Good historical fiction, such as books by Robert Harris. The story moves fast, the author understands the period well and helps you understand their motivations.
Simon Slater's narration is excellent, in this fast moving story with only subtle clues that author is changing scenes or even time periods Mr. Slater's intonation and very distinctive voices for each character helps you follow the storyline.
The storytelling and many of the characters are very witty. The author helps you understand the complicated motivations of different characters at a time when decisions were being made concerning succession in England and that ultimately ended up in the creation of the Anglican church, separating from the Pope and the Catholic Church. The book and narrator to a great job of making this story interesting and educational.
This is not an easy read or listen, however, if you take the time and make the effort (and download the cast of characters) you will not be disappointed. The story is complex, the language demanding. Mantel's style is unique in the way it weaves the story of Cromwell over his lifetime from poverty to wealth and power within the courts and accounting houses of Europe. Fascinating characters, informative asides and humor make this period come to life in a way I've never experienced before. It is no wonder this book won the Mann-Booker prize. Slater has done a great job - not a simple task given the enormous cast of characters.
I tried really hard to listen and follow along but gave up, having no idea who was speaking most of the time, and even when I was following along, I was bored. I'm very ignorant when it comes to British history so had no context and apparently little interest in the subject.
I'm sorry. Maybe I don't get it. But I find this too hard to follow. I've tried twice and would heartily recommend NOT listening to this.
I almost never give up and do not imagine myself so totally ignorant of Henry’s time and court. I felt that the author left the pivotal personality of Henry VIII almost out, which left me feeling that the myriad characters were operating in a vacuum. Like others I needed a print version to see who said or did what, so don’t play this for a friend who is new to audio. (Regarding the narrator: How many ways can one person pronounce Boleyn?) I seldom feel I’ve totally wasted my credit, but with four (4) restarts—while I listened all the way to the middle—is too much! I came, I tried, I quit.
Written entirely in first person, this is an amazing historical novel. Though not portrayed kindly in history, Mantel's Thomas Cromwell is sympathetic and generous. As other reviewers have said, it helps to already know the cast of characters in Henry VIII's court. It would be confusing if one didn't come to the story with the knowledge that Suffolk was Charles Brandon, Norfolk was Thomas Howard, etc. The narration is superb. Looking forward to Hilary Mantel's next volume of Cromwell's life. This book ends with Thomas More's case, but students of the period know there is more to come for Cromwell.
A delicious confection of a book. How I love it. It takes a special writer to breathe exquisite life into an over-familiar tale. And the prose is in the present tense, which I usually find annoying. But this book just leaves me begging for more.
I'm about half way through, but I have little idea of what is going on. It is very hard to follow. One criticism that I haven't seen in this list is that several of the characters are named either Anne or Thomas, and the author makes little effort to differentiate them in conversations. I was about half way through the first section, when for several minutes there was a description of how Anne, who I thought was Anne Boleyn, died. Since Anne Boleyn is integral to the rest of the story, I had to figure out which Anne the author was talking about.
I listen to lots of books but this is by far the worse I ever purchased. I have tried several times to get through this one and turn it off each time in frustration.
I must admit that I am not very far into this book, principally because I find listening to the narrator almost unbearable. I should have sampled it before I made the purchase.