National Book Critics Circle, Fiction, 2010
Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2009
Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
©2009 Hilary Mantell; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
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"A good book"
A good book with a solid reading. The reader had his work cut out with this work and did well to handle the often descriptive prose.
"Extraordinary book, beautifully read"
Mantel's feat in recreating the court of Henry VIII and putting the reader right into the middle of it, narrated through one of its central characters, Thomas Cromwell, is truly outstanding. Fantastically researched, beautifully written and very well read by Simon Slater. Highly recommended.
"A long winded disappointment"
All the positive reviews inspired me to try a book a little different to what I would normally listen to, however I was very disappointed with this book.
Its overly long with not much going on until the end of the second download file. The length is not helped by too many characters, with too little defining events/moments.
The narration is not brilliant due to the characters all sounding remarkably similar making following the character story arks hard going and confusing.
I struggled to find motivation to get to the end.
I found this book to be quite slow for the first half, if it hadn't won the Booker I wouldn't have persisted with it. I found it hard to get to know the characters of Mantel's style which is strictly dialogue over action.
However by the second half of the novel I was used to it and was impressed by the ending with Thomas Moore, which is why I believe it won the Booker prize. Mantel has convincingly turned the famous view of Moore from the the highly regarded "a man for all seasons" on it's head.
I enjoyed the narration style from Simon Slater who did a good job of bringing the story to life. I was disappointed to find he did not narrate the sequel.
At first I found it hard to follow the story as I felt the author jumped around and it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the tale. But, quite soon, I was gripped and loved every minute of it. The detail and research that Mantel has displayed in this well-known piece of history was a delight and left me yearning for more. Thankfully, I found "Bring up the Bodies"!
This is a book that's not for me. I'm sure it's brilliant and it was recommended but it is a little "heavy" for me. I love literature but perhaps this book is better served to the male audience.
"Difficult to distinguish characters from narration"
Wolf Hall is a very long book, you get a lot of words for your credit. However, it is only semi interesting and, as noted by other reviewers, very difficult to distinguish the males characters from one another. Other reviewers have said that with time they were able to distinguish the voices but I finished the book and was still left guessing. It wasn't particularly interesting and I found my mind wandering off in parts and the book was just background noise. It portrayed a very interesting time in history, The Tudors period is my absolute favourite. The angle of this book was also very interesting and you saw the characters in a new light. I can only imagine the written book was better having achieved critical acclaim because the audiobook wasn't able to hold my interest despite me ting really hard to like it.
"A 'clever' book, badly read."
I'm wondering whether I'm listening to the same book as some of the other reviewers here! This is a tricky enough book to read and without good narration is almost impossible to follow. I concur with a reviewer who states that sometimes you don't realise that the dialogue has changed from one set of characters to another. At times I've had to listen to sections several times to get it clear in my mind what is happening. The narration is reminiscent of a bad amateur dramatic production at times and there is far too little difference between the tones of the characters. Have given up after the first part and am annoyed to have wasted a credit on this.
"wonderful and atmospheric"
This is a brilliant book, wonderfully read. So atmospheric that you feel you have come to know Cromwell. It is a feast of historical fact and conjecture that made me challenge my conceptions of Cromwell, Wolsey, and even Katherine of Aragon. I could not wait to download "bring up the bodies", an equally good read.Prize winning authors are not usually my thing. In this case, the comittee got it dead right. A prize winning book if ever I read one. Absorbing and human.
"Enjoyable but some criticisms of narration"
I couldn't get on with the actual book Wolf Hall. This reading brought it to life and I found it very enjoyable as a story. The reading was good but there are some aspects in which it could have been better. This is not a huge problem, more a counsel of perfection. It must have been a challenging performance. There were several examples of wrong emphasis, changing the whole meaning of a sentence or even a section. And there were several times when the narrator failed to change voices at the right time, so that I thought the characters were still speaking but in fact we should have gone back to the main narrative. Because of the use of the present tense in the narration and the references to Cromwell as "he" this led to momentary confusion before I worked out who in fact was speaking and about whom. I didn't find the character voices difficult to distinguish, unlike some other reviewers.
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