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Wolf Hall | [Hilary Mantel]

Wolf Hall

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (231 )
5 star
 (108)
4 star
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3 star
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Overall
4.0 (173 )
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Story
4.2 (174 )
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 (96)
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 (41)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
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 (8)
Performance
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  •  
    Tracey Bonogin, Australia 03-11-14
    Tracey Bonogin, Australia 03-11-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
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    "Fabulous Narration Brings Big Story Alive"
    What did you love best about Wolf Hall?

    Hilary Mantel brings this era to life in one's mind's eye, with her accurate descriptions and real flesh and blood characters that are solid to the bone. The title, however, has very little to do with the story, Wolf Hall being the home of Jane Seymour's family, and this book is mainly concerned with the life and career of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief adviser and counsel, and that of the seven years it took to see Queen Catherine deposed, and Anne Boleyn installed as Henry's second bride. It follows the tensions of the religious beliefs and superstitions of the day, the tumult of the turning of England away from the rule of Catholicism and the very conception of the Church of England. Strewn with court gossip and delicate descriptions of allegiances and connivings among the courtiers, and more than the odd grisly execution and plague, and one feels and breathes the atmosphere that Mantel so carefully weaves her reader (listener) into.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Thomas Cromwell won my heart. Hilary constantly refers to Thomas as 'he' and then later in the book, as 'he, Cromwell'. Apparently history did not do Thomas Cromwell any kindnesses, but Hilary's depiction of him is of almost a modern thinking man, incredibly intelligent, stealthy, trustworthy and even compassionate. I had no idea that the modern political system was actually largely influenced by this man, and with that, the creation of the Church under the British Monarch, instead of being ruled by Rome from afar, where the well-being of the nation of England was far from the Roman Pope's concern.


    What does Simon Slater bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Simon Slater, I want to marry you... Oh to wake up each day and hear your dulcet tones would be as milk and honey for my ears. Simon brings each character alive, how he remembers all the voices he creates for each character and remains true to them right to the end is beyond me. Far from just being entertaining, it helps one to remember each character and their part in the story, as it is a vastly populated story, and one could easily forget who and what each character is/does. Simon read the story to me where I would have easily stopped reading the book, as it is wordy, and the plots are convoluted. I can see why there are many reviews on book sites where readers say they just gave up on this book without finishing it. I would have too had I not had it in Audible version. And I never grew tired of hearing his voice. Simon has a clearly enunciated but relaxed style of speaking, a beautiful well-rounded resonant baritone, a real 'man's voice', and yet, reading the women's voice parts, he did those so well too. And all the foreign accents. The Putney accent made me laugh. I hope the sequel "Bring Up the Bodies" is as good, although it is not narrated by Simon.


    Who was the most memorable character of Wolf Hall and why?

    Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and the conniving, ill-tempered, Anne Boleyn. This book made me want to research this period of history so I could better understand the political and religious contexts. The master painter Hans Holbein, the Court painter of the time, so wonderfully captured each one of these artful players from England's history. I now have a better understanding and appreciation of the influence on our current political system after having done this small bit of research. Who knew Thomas Cromwell? No-one, yet he is responsible for so much of the way our modern societal systems work.


    Any additional comments?

    I thoroughly recommend this book in Audible format. I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you Hilary for your incredible creation and thank you Simon for making it come to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlo Hagemann the Netherlands 05-30-13
    Carlo Hagemann the Netherlands 05-30-13 Member Since 2012

    I love to listen to American books. Following the plot, keeping track of personal developments and intrigues while walking two miles to work

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too many people for my ears/brain"
    Any additional comments?

    I have tried to listen to this book, but it was too hard for me (non-native) to tell all the persons apart. What I heard was intriguing, but every distraction (I listen while I walk from home to work) made me feeling lost between the characters.

    It's not the fault of Simon Slater. He does an extraordinary job. Maybe I will try later, but for now I think I wille have to read the book first, and even then.....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Ivanhoe, Australia 03-19-13
    Jennifer Ivanhoe, Australia 03-19-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    "Excellent"
    What made the experience of listening to Wolf Hall the most enjoyable?

    Historical accuracy of the events - facts around Henry's time as king and the events around this.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Wolf Hall?

    All good.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    All good


    Who was the most memorable character of Wolf Hall and why?

    Cromwell


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Applecross, Australia 08-19-12
    Christopher Applecross, Australia 08-19-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Like taking a bath in words"
    Where does Wolf Hall rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    A great book, beautifully written by an author at the top of her game. What is utterly striking is the way that some of the most dramatic events in history are portrayed through everyday life seemingly without the curse of hindsight. You feel like you are really living the events side by side with Cromwell.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Slater’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Simon slater must be one of the best narrators anywhere, his staging,voice and delivery are beyond gorgeous.i loved every minute of his performance.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gautham Bangalore, India 10-13-13
    gautham Bangalore, India 10-13-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not gripping"
    Would you try another book from Hilary Mantel and/or Simon Slater?

    NO


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    God of small things


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    hard to differentiate between the persons thoughts and the various characters actually interacting


    Any additional comments?

    Please allow me to choose another audio book. Will really appreciate it

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Lipsticklula
    4/11/10
    Overall
    "Great book poorly read"

    Loved the book in spite of the reader - his irritating tone and failure to distinguish characters effectively almost made me give up listening. His reading does a great disservice to this fascinating novel.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • mollymoon1
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    7/23/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book - historic brilliance"

    I was so glad that I noticed this book came before Bring up the Bodies - it is a great introduction to the court of King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Bolyne, Thomas Moore and other personalities surrounding each of them. It holds nothing back and shows the barbarity, brutality and politics of the time all moulded into a fabulous story. It will not disappoint anyone wanting to hear a factual history story and Simon Slater does a very good job of setting the ambience. Start it up - and enjoy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Irene
    London, United Kingdom
    5/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent novel"

    As a historical novel this is superb and as a portrait of people in any age is also very good. Simon Slater is also fantastic and made the characters come to life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Grace
    London, United Kingdom
    5/13/12
    Overall
    "Good book, poor narrator"

    I enjoyed this book, even though I did find the use of 'he' to refer to Cromwell a little grating at times. However, I have to say that the narration really put me off - the lack of difference in voices stopped the dialogue really coming alive for me, as there seem to be only three types - gruff, lordly, and simpering, with almost no difference in accents. Also, the reader's inability to pronounce several simple words, like 'secretary', snags in the ear and stops you from being able to enjoy the story. He sounded half-asleep at some points, which doesn't help the reader feel engaged with the events he is narrating.
    Overall, though, I would recommend this book, as Mantel brings the events, perceptions, and characters of the 16th century alive and constructs a wide-ranging narrative well - although I would perhaps recommend reading it in paper form, rather than the audiobook.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. P. G. Harris
    Chester, UK
    11/13/09
    Overall
    "A wolf whistle"

    I have titled my review as 'wolf whistle' because this audiobook is a beautiful and utterly absorbing listen and well narrated. This is an historical tale rich in characters, detail, history and locations - it draws you in totally and paints a picture so real that you feel like a hidden observer looking over the shoulder of Thomas Cromwell into the murky, intriguing, 'dog eat dog' politically brutal court of Henry VIII. Cromwell comes across as the english political chess champion of his times, a principled polygot and more importantly a survivour, able to stay alive by utilising his gift of talents amongst the leviathans of this tudor period. The language of the book is rich and wonderfully descriptive. I could not stop listening to it every spare moment I had and wil relisten again soon. I wholly recommend this book to you and rest assured I will be amonst the first in line for Hilary Mantel's follow up which I believe is near to completion.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Leeds, UK
    10/15/11
    Overall
    "Not the best book for narration"

    The book itself's alright, although I'd rather disagree with other reviewers saying that it's "an introduction to Tudor history". It's a NOVEL. It's a historic fiction piece. It can be an introduction to what Mantel THOUGHT of the Tudors, but hardly anything beyond that.
    The problem with the audio version is that the book doesn't lend itself that easily to narration - too many dia/polilogues when you've got no idea who says what, which makes it a rather puzzling affair.
    I've enjoyed it, though, well, at least most of the times I did, and it was mildly entertaining, although it seems to drag along towards the end. Having a plot might've helped, and Mantel seems to have tried, but not to much success, I'm afraid.

    9 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Juni
    Letchworth, Herts, United Kingdom
    11/20/09
    Overall
    "Fairly dull book"

    I guess it's a case of high expectations not being met. Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell are some great historic characters and their story should be a fascinating, exciting and fun ride. Unfortunately here it becomes dull, over-long and doesn't seem to ever get to the point. Disappointed.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth Davies
    11/7/09
    Overall
    "Disappointing"

    I found the narration irritating and the story tedious - I could not finish it. Sorry, I would not have given it a prize.

    18 of 29 people found this review helpful
  • T1M
    8/10/10
    Overall
    "Rich stuff"

    This is a fine book, as rich as it is long and complex - rewards any effort required to grasp its complexities and characters. At first I was baffled but it has since become one of my favourite reads.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Preston, KENT, United Kingdom
    8/30/10
    Overall
    "Over Long"

    Went into this one with an open mind, have been enjoying Tudor history and thought this would be a long...but rewarding listen.
    Within about two hours began to find the narrators upper class characterisation (More and others) really grated on me.
    Towards the end (I did finish it!) I really began to struggle and honestly felt it petered out.
    Learnt a few things but maybe ought to have gone for the shorter version.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful

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