Currently reading: “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

Howdy, friends.

This is what I’m reading now:


I’m about 10 pages into it, so not very far. Especially considering it’s about 600 pages. And the first part was a list of characters — that spanned about 7 pages — and then a few pages of family trees. Good grief. I picked this book up because the second in the series, “Bring up the Bodies,” made the list of the top 100 book of 2012 according to The New York Times.

Here is a review of “Wolf Hall.”

And another, from NPR.

And some commentary on the Duchess Kate by the author (random celebrity/royalty link).

And a note calling Hilary Mantel one of the most influential people in the world:

Unlike most historical novelists, she writes without sentimentality. Her two hefty volumes on Thomas Cromwell, brutal adviser to King Henry VIII — the King who destroyed the English monasteries and beheaded two of his six wives — have captured the British reading public and carried off all the prizes with the vigor of the narrative and minutely evoked detail of Cromwell’s day-to-day life. Amazingly, she makes a man renowned for nastiness into a sympathetic hero.

The book is a beast, but I’m game. I just finished “Sharp Objects” in two days — staying up way too late one night to get through it. It was great, though like “Gone Girl,” I thought the ending was a little too … neat? I don’t even know what the word is. But I liked it.

I didn’t realize how giant “Wolf Hall” was until I picked it up from my holds at the library. Then I sat down on the couch last night and opened it up.

“Oh no,” I told Philip.

“What?,” he said. “Tiny print?”

“Worse,” I said. “A list of characters and a family tree!”

That always guarantees I’ll be confused from the start. Sometimes I just have to give in to my horrible memory and mow through a book, remembering as best I can who all the characters are. Otherwise, I turn back to that list every 3 pages and eventually get frustrated.

Happy reading.


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2 Responses to Currently reading: “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

  1. Bill says:

    “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel is without a doubt the most annoying book I have ever read. Despite all the glowing reviews on the back of the book, the author has used a writing technique that is often confusing to the reader. It’s as if the writer is an invisible presence as the scenes are played out before her and told to the reader in the present tense.

    The protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, is referred throughout as “he,” “him,” or “his” – to the point that the reader often isn’t quite sure who is talking or whose thoughts are being described. This conceit sometimes requires the author to clarify things in an awkward fashion.

    In one scene involving three characters – Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII and Cromwell – Mantel writes: “”He, Cromwell, watches.” In another passage in which Cromwell is musing about what the king will need, the author writes, “Meanwhile he, Cromwell, puts his commissioners on the road.” It’s as if the author, herself, is having trouble keeping up with her own characters. She certainly makes it difficult for the reader.

    And by the way, the title of the book also is rather odd. Wolf Hall, country home of the Seymours, is mentioned infrequently in the book. Jane Seymour is referred to only in passing and is a minor character. Cromwell never visits Wolf Hall, although in the books closing paragraph, he makes plans to do so.

    Hilary Mantel is a respected writer of historical fiction but, in my opinion, she erred badly in using this writing technique…and it has discouraged me from reading the other two books in the trilogy.

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