• The Mirror & the Light

  • A Novel
  • By: Hilary Mantel
  • Narrated by: Ben Miles
  • Length: 38 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,928 ratings)

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The Mirror & the Light

By: Hilary Mantel
Narrated by: Ben Miles
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Publisher's summary

This program is read by Ben Miles, who played Thomas Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

This program includes a bonus conversation between Ben Miles and Hilary Mantel.

If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?

With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: Of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

The story begins in May 1536: Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell, a man with only his wits to rely on, has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to the breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. All of England lies at his feet, ripe for innovation and religious reform. But as fortune’s wheel turns, Cromwell’s enemies are gathering in the shadows. The inevitable question remains: How long can anyone survive under Henry’s cruel and capricious gaze?

Eagerly awaited and eight years in the making, The Mirror & the Light completes Cromwell’s journey from self-made man to one of the most feared, influential figures of his time. Portrayed by Mantel with pathos and terrific energy, Cromwell is as complex as he is unforgettable: A politician and a fixer, a husband and a father, a man who both defied and defined his age.

The Telegraph (UK) Best Books of the Year - 2020
Minneapolis Star Tribune Holiday Book Recommendations - 2020
Time Magazine Best Books of the Year - 2020
An NPR Best Book of the Year - 2020
The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year - 2020
USA Today Best Books of the Year - 2020
The Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year - 2020
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year - 2020
Man Booker Award - Nominee
New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year - 2020

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

"Ben Miles - Group Captain Peter Townsend in The Crown - has, in addition to narrating this final volume, taken on the massive task of delivering Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies as well. He also played Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Wolf Hall Parts One & Two, and captures again the man’s voice, its taint of baseness, its ups and downs and quiet ruthlessness." (Washington Post)

"Miles’ familiarity with Mantel’s portrayal of Cromwell pervades his performance of The Mirror & the Light, which traces Cromwell’s fall from greatness, beginning with the aftermath of Anne Boleyn’s beheading and ending with his own. Miles’ voice carries the power-hungry statesman’s monumental final act with ease and a delicate nuance, as only someone with a deep understanding of the story could." (BookPage)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Hilary Mantel (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"The many listeners enthralled by the earlier two volumes in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall trilogy will find all their expectations met in this final installment... Here is a narrative achievement of the highest order." (AudioFile magazine, Earphones Award winner)

Featured Article: Best Book Trilogies to Listen to Right Now


Here's why good things come in threes! Everyone knows the famous expression "Three's a crowd!"—but that sentiment doesn't ring true when it comes to books. But what are the best trilogies of all time? With thousands of amazing trilogies out there, it's hard to narrow it down. We’ve compiled some book trilogies that represent the best of the best—and don’t worry about spoilers; we’ve only described the first book of the series in each entry.

Editor's Pick

Every event of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies has new meaning now
"I waited and waited for the final installment of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy about Thomas Cromwell; listeners, it’s here and it’s revelatory. We all know where Cromwell’s life is tending (you can’t "spoil" history), and so wise listeners will keep a hanky within reach. But the combination of Hilary Mantel’s immersion in Tudor England, and Ben Miles’s ability to become Cromwell (as seen in Wolf Hall on Broadway and the West End) is uniquely magical. (Inside baseball: she quoted Ben-Miles-as-Cromwell in the dialogue of the book!) The Mirror and the Light is 40 hours long...and ends too soon." —Christina H., Audible Editor