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
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.
In-depth view of the Thomas Cromwell.
His voices were astounding.
A very long, but compelling, book.
Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is a rich and rewarding novel with a somewhat challenging narrative technique that puts you sometimes inside the protagonist's head in 3rd person and sometimes outside, dialogue that can be difficult to decipher at times. Slater's performance give each of the many characters a distinctive voice, which helps enormously in enjoying the clever exchanges and asides of these rich characters and brings them to life marvelously. I am currently rereading and listening to Wolf Hall simultaneously for maximum enjoyment.
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.
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