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.
Maybe if I had unlimited time and patience I could have stuck it out, but after over an hour of listening it was too frustrating. I couldn't understand what was going on, who was talking or even when it was conversation. The narrator was annoying because he over-acted.
Without a clear understanding of all the intrigues of Henry VIII, I found this book very hard to follow and understand.
I gave it several hours, but it just did not hold my attention.
Although the narrator gets good reviews, I found many of his voices to be so similar that I wasn't sure who was talking.
I always love to read about the intrigue of the British monarchy but this is too hard to follow.
My husband is reading this book on his IPad and I am listening to it on my IPad. We both find it hard to follow because the different characters are not easily identified when they are speaking - more the style of writing than the fault of the reader.
There's been a great deal in recent media about Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, and I thought I'd heard and read enough to last me a lifetime. But I heard Hilary Mantel interviewed on Fresh Air and she sounded so intelligent and spoke in such an interesting way about the women in her books, that I thought I'd given them a try. Lucky me! I learned more than I could have imagined about the people who played their large and tragic parts in the drama of Henry and Ann. But this is a book about Thomas Cromwell in particular--only a name to me until now. Fascinating and wonderful read/listen! You won't be disappointed.