National Book Critics Circle, Fiction, 2010
Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2009
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king's freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph? In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage.
With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.
The program includes a pdf containing a cast of characters and family tree.
©2009 Hilary Mantel; (P)2009 Macmillan Audio
This is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to because it's such a fascinating, well-written literary achievement. Although exploring the mind and character of Thomas Cromwell, it has much to say to us today about the uses of political power and the clash of government and religion. The book's great strength is giving readers/listeners the view from inside Cromwell's mind---a very intelligent place to be. Hilary Mantel certainly deserved the Booker Prize for this book.
Simon Slater captures a vast number of characters with his powerful and nuanced narration and he rendered perfectly the humanity and fierce intelligence of Thomas Cromwell, making me realize once again that audiobook narration is a high art that should be honored as such. I like Simon Vance too, but I wonder why Slater is not the narrator on the follow-up book to Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies. In any case, I'll look for Slater's work in the future and I'm grateful to have this one.
I MADE A HUGH ERROR IN PARAGRAPH 3. IT'S PATRICK, NOT PETER. MEA CULPA!!!
It is equal to my copy of Gustav Flaubert's "Madame Bovary", Mantel being one of the greatest writers of our time.
"Wolf Hall" has a lyrical and deadly style. Ms. Mantel does not, for once, portray Thomas Cromwell as an inky, little slacker, but a full-bodied thinking man of the 21st Century.
What moved me the most was Cromwell's tender memories of his lost girls, and his steel eyed interrogation of Thomas More.
Best book I've had in decades!
It would be difficult to recommend any changes because it earned the Booker Prize. That is a very intimidating award.
Thomas Cromwell has always intrigued me, but I got tired of him...I am not so intrigued any more
He was the only reason I kept trying to like the book.
Well, I don't plan to invest the time finishing it.
Even with Mr. Slater's skills,I i was often baffled about who was talking and what/who they were talking about. This is sometimes a disadvantage in any book with the audio format, as I can't flip back the pages. That said, I probably wouldn't have had the patience to go back and forth in the book, either.
Host of CraftLit and Just-the-Books podcasts, editor of What Would Madame Defarge Knit? series, mother of boys, knitter of things, teacher of stuff...
One of the best audiobooks I've heard (and I've heard many). There is something inexorable about the movement of this book and this narrator (actually... both Simon Slater and Thomas Cromwell). Something to which we must attend. Something which cannot be denied... and I'm not alone in this, I know.
Hilary Mantel has done such a service to history, it just makes me want to hug the book.
I love the way he growls at the passage of time.
His voice is... very Cromwell-appropriate. It matches his attitude and his life's-story so nicely... while Simon Vance (Bring up the Bodies) does a fine job, his reading suffers by comparison (no fault of his own) bc Slater is so iconically suited to this part.
If there is a God, s/he will allow Slater to record Bring up the Bodies and all Mantel/Cromwell books which follow...
Cromwell... but I'd want to be sure there was plenty to drink at the dinner. _I_ would need it... I doubt he would.
The narrative is odd-ish, sure. Mantel's work here is very different from what you'd expect form a Tudor-iffic story... but Slater's voice and Mantel's genius merge here in a grand way to make you ache for a time machine.
I would definitely try another Hilary Mantel book. I think she is a talented author. This book would be a good reading book, where where the words would get processed. I struggled to keep up with this story because I was constantly trying to figure out who was talking, what was said and where and when was the narration taking place.
I felt like I needed to know the story and characters well in order to truly appreciate this story. I watched "The Tudors" so I had some knowledge of the history, but I was still lost.
OK, but a difficult book to read because there are so many characters. It was difficult to tell who was talking. And the narration was fast so by the time I might have figured out who was talking, I had missed the essence of what they had said.
disappointment because I like period literature, but this seemed like a bunch of jumble.
Confusing at first, with so many characters not always identified clearly, but the author has brought the era and people to life brilliantly. Narrator is excellent. Can't wait to listen to Bringing Up the Bodies.
All I can say is wow at how this story develops and yet stay incredibly interesting throughout.
This was a turning point in English history, and in fact in the history of Christianity. Mantel makes the character personal and makes Cromwell likeable, which one would not expect from other history texts. I recommend this book strongly.
Cromwell. It is his story.
Cromwell, the man behind the legend.
A rewrite would have helped immensly. The subject matter of Henry, Cromwell, Wolsey and the court is intriguing but this book failed.
Someone less into the drama of it, more in the style of a reader than an actor. The narrator was distracting.
I loved everything about this book, but had to listen to some (most) parts over and over again to catch the details. There are many characters to keep track of and, it seems, more than the average use of pronouns. I often had difficulty discerning who "he" was, and whether "he" was thinking or speaking. In audio the reader also does not have the benefit of paragraphs and other kinds of visual breaks in the text and on the page to convey a change in scene. I think all these distinctions would have been easier to make if I had the print right in front of me. Despite all that it was well worth the read. I may download it onto my reader and try again.
I've never heard Simon Slater before, but he does an excellent job of narrating and using different voices to help distinguish between characters. Despite this great effort, however, I still struggled to sort out at times who was who.
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