Wolf Hall

While I’m sitting waiting for the election results, I might as well plug a book that I have enjoyed more than any novel in the last decade. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize (as did its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, which I haven’t yet read–I’m #22 on the library waiting list).

Wolf Hall is set in the time of Henry VIII, and closely follows the life of his counselor and henchman Thomas Cromwell. I love getting the history: the turbulence of the Reformation, the titillation of Henry’s multiple love affairs and marriages, the arrogant presumptions of the ruling class. But what makes the novel great are the language and the characterizations, particularly of Cromwell but equally of Anne Boleyn, Henry, and quite a number of other vivid personalities. I hardly knew historical fiction could be this great. I read the book once in late July and then–I had never done this before–sat back down and read it again in October. Truthfully, I could start again tomorrow. I found it mesmerizing.

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