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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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.
"Great book - dreadful narration"
Having listened extensively to (brilliant) Timothy West reading Trollope and being a great fan of audio books, I was really looking forward to listening to Wolf Hall - but I am finding the narration awful. It must be me, as many of your reviewers are saying how excellent Simon Slater is and how he brings the characters to life. I disagree, and actually, at times, I think his interpretation of the characters is too black and white. For instance Thomas More sounds like a complete villain and I wondered if his conversations could be interpreted more as dry wit said with a glint in his eye. Wolsey and several others sound like pantomime dames and well, I'm tempted to give it up and download the abridged version by Dan Stevens to finish it. I love the way the book is written and at times, it must be said, Simon Slater does a good job, but I almost dread Wolsey coming into the plot again with that simpering voice as it's ruining it for me. You couldn't get Timothy West or even Dan Stevens to record the unabridged version could you? If so I'll definitely download and listen again.
I don't normally listen to fiction audiobooks, I tend to read fiction and listen to non fiction.
This book was a brilliant exception. The story is obviously fabulous, the narration is excellent. This really is a first class audiobook and I can think of few better.
I love what I have read of Hilary Mantel but I had to give up with the audio version near the beginning. It's too fast and the lines too throw away. You can't get to know the characters through what they say (and this is the way you have to get to know them in this book) because the reader is rushing on and injecting naturalism into what is a highly structured and unusual way of narrating. The result is just confusion.
"Couldn't follow the narration"
This is obviously a very good historical novel and I am disappointed that I wasn't able to get into it because I couldn't follow the narration. I was constantly confused as to who was speaking at the time - not helpful when the story already has a complex web of characters. I returned my purchase and think I will rather read the book as a hard copy.
Brilliant writing and excellent narration. The only audiobook I have been happy to repeat-listen straight after finishing the first time.
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