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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.

Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize 

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

A New York Times best seller

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of 20 years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is "a darkly brilliant reimagining of life under Henry VIII.... Magnificent." (The Boston Globe)

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

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

©2009 Hilary Mantel (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Featured Article: 20 Best Historical Fiction Audiobooks


Often based on real people, events, and scenarios, historical fiction gives us the opportunity to learn about worlds and times we will never experience while introducing fascinating characters and stories set in their midst. Sometimes, the genre can even give us a peek into hidden storylines that routinely go unmentioned in traditional history books, showing us that those of ages past are perhaps not so different from ourselves.

What listeners say about Wolf Hall

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Excellent performance by Ben Miles

Hilary Mantel cast Ben Miles to read the Wolf Hall trilogy, and it’s a revelation. He played Cromwell with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Mantel has stated that his voice was in her mind as she wrote The Mirror and the Light. He recorded that and went back to do new recordings of the previously released Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies. When you are choosing which audio version to purchase, I highly recommend this one!

9 people found this helpful

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Loved the narration!

I absolutely fell deep into this audio book, enthralled by both the narration and story. First the story- I have always been obsessed with Tudor history and read all of Alison Weir and Phillipa Gregory’s books on the time period. I was thoroughly impressed with looking at the same Tudor story from a very different point of view, Thomas Cromwell. I have always considered him more of a minor character in the shadows and it was refreshing to learn that he was actually crucial to the entire downfall of Anne and had such an intense connection to Wolsey. I ended up changing my opinion of both Cardinal Wolsey and Cromwell after only a short time listening to this. I found myself wishing I had known them both. Hilary Mantel does an awesome job building a person in them both, where the reader feels like they are inside their minds and a fly on the wall. Never got bored, found myself listening to the book every second I could!

Ben Miles does a bad ass job at the narration, the changing dialects and accents. I loved his voice, found it calming and engaging. I felt like the narration gave life to Cromwell especially. I tried listening to the story read by the other narrator and when I found this one, I was instantly impressed with Ben Miles and got the other audio books read by him. Some people said they didn’t like his pauses or clearing his throat and I just took these all as creative license giving Cromwell and especially Norfolk their personalities. I was constantly smiling at his voices! I can’t imagine a better pairing of an amazing story where you fall in love with their world and a narrator who acts out each character! One of my favorites!

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Brilliant!

The author brings the reader to the era and the intricacies of court politics. And yet she also details personal challenges and motivations. Cromwell, the main character, is shown as a brilliant, caring renaissance man--ahead of his time. Even with changes of points of view the story comes alive and shows us that genius is not just a product of our age. Interesting, engaging and simply brilliant. We will be looking for more Hilary Mantel books.

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Great Narration

Ben does a great job of making the dialogue sound truly conversational instead of just being read. His reading is a performance vs a straight narration. The story of Cromwell is very interesting to me and I learned much from this book. I’m onto the second in the series read by Ben.

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Superb narration, but keep a character index at hand

The narration is superb, with major characters cleanly drawn by tone of voice and accent. But there are a LOT of characters - too many to keep track of for me, until I found a web page that briefly described them all. I kept it handy so that I could remind myself of who was being referred to when they reappeared.

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Its A Winner!

Wonderful writing, but the narration is a bit unusual. "He" is "Cromwell" most of the time. Once you acclimate, you are right in the room with him.
Ben Miles' performance is brilliant.

1 person found this helpful

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Spectacular Narration, Some Confusing Points

Overall, "Wolf Hall" is a most excellent, entertaining read. Ben Miles's narration is spot on. Narrating this is no small feat. He does all the accents well, and translates the character's moods. Namely, he makes the reader see Anne Boelyn, one character he finds most distasteful. One thing about this book is it is hard to follow. The the third first person narrative is complicated, and one never, or rather has to decipher who is often being discussed or doing the discussing. As this is Thomas Cromwell's story, it is still confusing. And too, the flashbacks from early in his life to the present day aren't always clear. But this aside, the reader just has to remember this is Cromwell's story, as this is not normal for a book on the Tudor dynasty. Hilary Mantel truly did a masterful job of making this unique in that way. All in all, this is a masterpiece.

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Great read, not my favorite Ben Miles performance

Thoroughly researched, richly detailed, and never overdone in the writing, this was a great read start to finish. Mantel is more than equal to the insane challenge she undertook in chronicling this period of extraordinary intrigue in a way that really elevates the simple, banal humanness of an unbelievable number of figures from the history books. Her restraint is incredible - it would have been so easy to overdramatize any of these characters or events, but she masterfully permits each to speak for themselves through neatly recounted actions and a wealth of different perspectives captured in incisive, efficient dialogue. I cannot wait to read the next!

That said, I will be reading the next book. Despite high hopes for Ben Miles, who I usually love, I found the performance lacking sufficient nuance or emotion to distinguish the numerous characters weaving in and out of the story. While his voice was pleasant and pace energetic, he read almost every character with the same limited stiff upper-lipped emotional range, and, save for a few scattered accents and feminine affects, relied almost exclusively on a near constant lip-smacking and audible mouth-working to differentiate characters, eventually using the device completely indiscriminately, not only in dialogue but narration as well. The result is an at times tough to follow, misophonia-inducing listen that falls short of effectively carrying a work so fascinating in its own right it actually didn't need much vocal dressing. Although performing the multitude of characters in such a long read is unquestionably challenging, and it started off well, it seemed like he got bored and thirsty pretty quickly, making me wish for the end long before I reached it.

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Astonishingly beautiful and detailed writing

What the PBS special failed to capture is the mirthfulness of Cromwell’s character. I laughed out load many times while listening to this book.

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magnificent

a wordsmith in her prime, Ms Mantel has placed her subject in the whole realm of life: characters finely drawn, evolving, relating to one another and changing circumstance; clothing described so one can 'feel' the material; food preparation, fragrant spices, crisping of fragile wafers, preparation of eels; weather an ever present reality, skittering leaves, building thunderheads, weak sun shafts. the book is a monumental, sensuously presented landscape of history, conflict, church and state.