I am a crotchety lady who loves mysteries and Tudor times.
#1, or tied wth Mantel's "Bring Up the Bodies"
Thomas Cromwell is given such a wry sense of humor, there were so many unexpected moments that made me smile in the midst of an incredible amount of character depth and historical context.
His voice is gorgeous and he reads dialogue like an Oscar worthy actor. Seriously charming and engaging.
The way Mantel handles Cromwell's remembrance of his family- many of whom died from the sweating sickness- is among the most touching and sincere portraits of grief I've found in a book.
Even if you don't love Henry the VIII and tudor history, the prose in this book is simply phenomenal. The way the story unfolds with actual suspense and surprise, even when the conclusions are foregone and you know how it ends, are unique in all the historical fiction I've read.
The book is a very difficult one to listen to, and my wife tells me to read as well. The author uses the word "he" over and over with different individuals in mind for the "he" and it isn't easy to tell whether she means "He" (Cromwell) or "he" some other individual in the sentence. Making it even harder, the book doesn't keep a forward moving narrative, instead doing frequent flashbacks to the character's past memories, some of which she has shared in the story previously, others to which we have never heard and either are about to now learn the details or not.. it is all very convoluted.This is a fascinating time in history, not at all well know to us weakly educated American readers, yet very influential in the rise to power of the eventual British Empire. Sadly, Ms. Mantel's method of telling the story doesn't illuminate the history very much and so the dramatic tensions of the story are often lost on the reader. Making it worse, many of the major historical incidents (the most egregious example is the trial of Thomas More) are walked up to the very brink of telling, then skipped altogether. In short, Ms. Mantel doesn't do a very good job of telling the story. You must be quite familiar with the detailed history already to be able to really grasp what she is driving at in the book. For American readers, this method might work for someone well known, say with Lincoln, but would not work for someone like Aaron Burr.. and even then, I would prefer the more narrative approach of Sharon Kay Penman's series starting with "Here Be Dragons" to Ms. Mantel "stream of consciousness" approach. [BTW.. Audible.. PLEASE RECORD the Penman series... I would love to listen to it!]
The ending was rather lame.
Mediocre narration. It was constantly a challenge to figure out who was talking.
Thomas Cromwell seems so real I could touch him. Love the depth and the descriptive language. The 16th century came to life for me.
Wonderful characterization of voices brings out the individual.
If you hate Thomas More, you'll love this book. If you love Thomas Cromwell you'll also love this book. It is better read than heard, although the reader does an excellent job. It's just the nature of the narrative that makes listening pretty tedious, mainly because you must concentrate very hard in order to catch many of the transitions from subject-to-subject, person-to-person and place-to-place that happen so quickly it's like trying to follow the trail of a dog with firecrackers tied to its tail (something, in the spirit of Mantel's story, that Thomas More surely would have done to some poor dog if he'd had access to firecrackers at the time; then he would have taken the dog into his house where he would have whipped it mercilessly with his own scourging crop before drawing-and-quartering it and then burning it at the stake - all of this inside his house, except maybe the burning). Meanwhile, Cromwell would be out somewhere forming the first chapter of the ASPCA. Since I don't have a dog in the More-Cromwell fight, I really don't care what anyone thinks of either one of them, but it is a little irritating when an author finds it necessary to make one person a perfect villain in order to make another a perfect hero. Where's the ambiguity that is supposed to be essential to all serious fiction? Some reviewers have said that the book is peppered with humor, and I did smile a couple of times. Yet, alas, I was so busy straining to follow the story's transitions that I missed the funny parts or was simply too tired to laugh.
If you love history and are fascinated by the players, read this outstanding .novelization of Cromwell's rise to power in Henry VIII's court
Pillars of the earth by Ken Follet shares many of the same characteristics. Both books examine the uses and abuses of power by both secular and religious people and institutions. The authors weave facts into rich and complex fictions.
Slater added verbal nuances that reflect the often cynical and sardonic voices that might have been missed in reading the books.
See the title of this review
Because I have loved watching "The Tudors" on Showtime and the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl," I was eager to listen to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Ugh. Was I ever disappointed. This book is boring and tells too much from Thomas Cromwell and other characters I couldn't care less about.
The book introduces Jane Seymour from Wolf Hall but never fully develops her character. Not even in the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, so what was the point....
The heart of that time was Henry and Anne, who just perched on the periphery of this book.
The depth of history here is extraordinary. You feel like you are there. I did struggle a little with the sheer volume of characters (many of whom had titles and names that changed!) but learnt to just let the story flow over me and concentrate on Cromwell.Some have commented on the present tense as being a strange choice but I liked it - in fact I didn't really notice it thinking about it there is an immediacy about it. A sense that this is some fusty old history.A wonderful listen. I'm looking forward to the next two in the series - even though one is written yet!
I have been a fan of stories about the Tudors, but this one left me wanting more.
First of all, unless you are fully familiar with all the key players in that part of history, then you are out of luck in terms of really understanding and visualizing the characters. I thought the character development was lacking - in most cases you didn't know what anyone looked like, what they sounded like, etc.
I also felt like both the story and narration didn't have a good flow. There weren't a lot of highs and lows; just a steady, monotonous description of the political dealings inside the Tudor household from the prospective of Cranmer. There were many times throughout the listening that I couldn't tell when one chapter had ended and the other one started - even at the end I felt like "wait, that was it?... okay..."
Don't get me wrong, this author is obviously talented and people smarter than me have given her awards for this piece of work, so there's obviously something to it. I'll just say that if you are looking for a good story to entertain you in your free time, this probably isn't what you're looking for. If you are a huge fan of the Tudors, know the era inside and out, and just want some further insight from the prospective of Cranmer - by all means, dig in.
Even though it is a story familiar to most, the perspective of Cromwell gives Henry VIII and his break from Rome a new twist. Cromwell is so clever, ambitious and flawed that he reminds me of one of my favorite fictional characters - Tyrion Lannister.
One of the best performances. With so many characters to keep track of, Simon Slater does a wonderful job of making each voice distinct and genuine.
Sure -but way too long. Despite it's length, I was sad when it was over.