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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

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  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-30-10

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.

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • T1M
  • 08-10-10

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

  • Overall
  • Elizabeth Davies
  • 11-07-09


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 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jean
  • 03-28-10

Not Entirely Satisfying

I really wanted to read Wolf Hall because I enjoy well researched historical fiction about real characters. Unlike many people I was put off by the fact that it won the Booker Prize as I had only read one previously, Hotel du Lac, and found it pointless! I chose to try it as an audio bookrather than ploughing through the printed version, and I'm glad I did as it was brought to life by the narrator. I was dissatisfied by the often extreme detail on some parts of Thomas Cromwell's life and the failure in such a time consuming book to cover all of his life. It felt unfinished, and I doubt if i could be bothered to read/listen to a sequel by the same author. I'm more inclined to look elsewhere for more on Cromwell's later years up to his execution. There are other authors who do the Tudor period much better.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lynn
  • 01-22-10

Doom and gloom

Yes, well researched. Yes very well written and brings the historical period to life. But, but DEEEPLY cynical the authors view of human nature or at least the narration! There exists in this work a kind of intellectual pretension or a post hoc analysis of history which posits that people are doomed to die a horrible death and situations are doomed to fail because of either profound naivety, evangelicalism, or aristocratic self-belief on the part of those involved. While I enjoyed the first part, I found this dire view of history and human nature incredibly tiresome as the book wore on. There was not a moment in the book when the characters were allowed to consider for a moment that another reality may be possible. Doom and gloom it is. I felt that I was being lectured at by someone who really needs some anti-depressants. Back to Charles Dickens for awhile.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lyndsay
  • 02-05-10

Poor narration

I listened to a good 8 hours of this but had to give up. I think the book was good but I couldn't bear to listen to it any longer as the narration was really poor. The reader's characterisations were childishly unsubtle. It's a shame that it wasn't narrated by someone of the quality of, say, Anton Lesser.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Arthur
  • 01-26-10

Heavy breathing annoying

Book is great, many other reviews will tell you that. The reader of the book is annoying tho' as you can constantly hear him taking in gasps of breath before each phrase. It was all I could concentrate on. Spoilt it for me.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • 12-09-09

If this was the best.....

Extremely disappointed in this book. The story has no rhythm and meanders all over the place. Characters are not well drawn and the narrator makes many appear to be either supremely arrogant or simple. If you can't really do accents then don't try. Constantly felt I was being done a favour having the book read to me. I got to the end just in case I had missed something. Won't buy another book by either the author or the narrator.

Books by CJ Sansom are much better about the period and are better written. As with much of the comment in the press this book was hyped beyond its delivery.

7 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Steve Rawson
  • 12-06-17

Extraordinary writing - Tudor England brought to vivid and terrifying life

The characters leap off the page. 500 year old events brought electrifyingly to life. It helps to know something of the time to place all the main characters but 30 minutes research online will do this. Then let the story absorb time for Bring up the Bodies.......part 2 of this sensational tale.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Heisenberg
  • 11-03-17

Absolutely loved it. Supreme story telling.

There are a lot of historical novels set during this period, and indeed telling this same story - Henry VIII's break from Rome and his turbulent relationship with Anne Boleyn. This rises above them, simply on the strength of the writing and the superb characterisation.

I had already seen, and loved, the BBC series based on the book, and was worried that the book itself might fail to live up to my expectations. I needn't have been concerned. Rarely have I felt as transported into a historical period as with this book. Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended.