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 rarely give up when starting a new book, but this was just too difficult to follow. I really wanted to like this book. I am an avid Tudor-history reader, but this was just too hard to get in to. I hate that I couldn't keep going, but there's just too many other books other there that i want to start to keeping trying at this one.
A different writer could have made this story better. Hilary Mantel's writing style is nothing short of confusing. She jumps from place to place, present to past, character to character in such a way that it leaves you constantly wondering what is going on. Having multiple characters with the same name didn't help either. One almost needs to be a scholar in Tudor history in order to follow the story.
Professional, versatile, entertaining. He did a great job with pathetic material.
I have not heard him before, but Simon Slater does an excellent job of giving a wide bredth of characters distinctive voices, so the intricate story is always easy to follow. I am disappointed to see that he is not narrating the next book in the trilogy.
Some action in the first three hours.
In my alloted time(3hrs) to get into a story, the narrative lacked vigor, action, and was a plodding, boring story. Historical novels is my usual fare, but not this one. I assume I lacked patience on this one, May try to listen again later. Presently, I have other enjoyable storiies to hear,
I did not stick around long enough to know.
Very high. This is a great story, beautifully researched, written, and then the choice of readers is also excellent.
Plot, writing, characterization, and performance. In short, the whole enchalada.
No, but I would follow his readings anywhere! I am disappointed that he's not performing BRING UP THE BODIES, but I also love Simon Vance's reading.
Historical figures and settings enlivened better than any premium cable mini-series.
Had it in my ears all day.
An interesting twist on a familiar tale. By changing the characters placement in this tale of familiar intrigue it allows a view of the whole that is refreshing. Cromwell as an intelligent, almost thoughtful man gives a new perspective.
I really do like Hillary Mantel. I love this series, the period, her point of view.
This series works SO much better in print.
The huge downside of this series in Audio for me was that the books make it clear through use of quotation marks what is internal monologue, and what is spoken aloud. I can't think how else to make this clear in Audio than the constant " ... he said", "... he thought", but that really slowed down the story and makes it much less effective. Cromwell's portrayal as a man who thought much more than he spoke was a critical part of the tale.
Slater was a good narrator, but I got stuck on the constant verbal markers of the difference between thought and speech. That distracted me to the point at which I could not listen to this. Luckily, I had access to the books in another format.
not do another hash-up of the dacinci code. really tired of this stuff.Let's just put the knights templar to rest, along with monasteries that have secret rooms, codes, etc.
only if I knew the book was good
I would cut the entire thing.
Really disappointed. Purchased based on New Yorker review, was planning on travel so I didn't have a lot of time to vet the book before buying. I hate it when I get a real dog from audible as it replaces one of the "good reads" I could have gotten. Won't do that again!
This is an exciting investigation into the life of someone you might have thought was just one more petty bad guy in the snakepit court of Henry VIII. But Thomas Cromwell emerges as uniquely fascinating: intelligent ruthless and yet ethical-in-an-odd-16th-century-way, operating in a very dangerous landscape. Mantel uses a minimalist touch to sketch the intense political maneuverings and treacheries and tragedies that made up daily life at the close of the middle ages. You have to pay attention and work a little, but the reward is that the world of her novel grows up around you, pulling you utterly in.
But, alas, Simon Slater's reading is not equal to the material. His voice carries the same sarcastic bite in every situation and for every character, whether they???re discussing cutlery or murder. The book is a little hard to follow and can be confusing, and although Slater does try to distinguish characters by changing his voice, unfortunately his tone - which I think is actually more important - never changes. The characters all sound like they have exactly the same personality: cynical and ironic, with a nasty little drawl. I gave up listening to it with my husband and I???m reading it aloud to him myself. I'm not a great reader but I can be straightforward and simple, which is a better choice for this marvelous book.
Bonus tip: two paintings mentioned in the book, the portraits of Cromwell and Thomas More by Hans Holbein are hanging facing each other in the Frick Collection in New York. After you've read Wolf Hall, it's a great treat to go see them.
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