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
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.
DALE reader one
I liked it but....
Ah too bad it's over but what exactly was I listening too
I think so. His voice was neat
The is the point since there were so many. The characters seemed scrabbled
Maybe if the author had set the tone much closer to the bone and then from tim to time come in deeply with the characters talking it would have been better. Mind you I didn't dislike it,but.....left a bit to be desired
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.
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