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Wolf Hall: A Novel

Wolf Hall: A Novel

Wolf Hall: A Novel

Author
Hilary Mantel;  
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Publisher
Picador
ISBN-13
9780312429980
ISBN-10
0312429983
Publish
2010-08
Pages
604
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Size
2.5 * 20.8 * 13.7
Format
Paperback
Version
First Edition

Product Description

WINNER OF THE 2009 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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 twenty 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).

About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the author of Wolf Hall, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An Experiment in Love, The Giant, O'Brien, Fludd, Beyond Black, Every Day Is Mother's Day, and Vacant Possession. She has also written a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. Winner of the Hawthornden Prize, she reviews for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. She lives in England.

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. The opening cast of characters and family trees may give initial pause to some readers, but persevere: the witty, whip-smart lines volleying the action forward may convince you a short stay in the Tower of London might not be so bad... provided you could bring a copy of Wolf Hall along. --Anne Bartholomew --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is a startling achievement, a brilliant historical novel focused on the rise to power of a figure exceedingly unlikely, on the face of things, to arouse any sympathy at all . . . . This is a novel too in which nothing is wasted, and nothing completely disappears."--Stephen Greenblatt, The New York Review of Books

"On the origins of this once-world-shaking combat, with its still-vivid acerbity and cruelty, Hilary Mantel has written a historical novel of quite astonishing power. . . . With breathtaking subtlety--one quite ceases to notice the way in which she takes on the most intimate male habits of thought and speech--Mantel gives us a Henry who is sexually pathetic, and who needs a very down-to-earth counselor. . . . The means by which Mantel grounds and anchors her action so convincingly in the time she describes, while drawing so easily upon the past and hinting so indirectly at the future, put her in the very first rank of historical novelists. . . . Wolf Hall is a magnificent service to the language and literature whose early emancipation it depicts and also, in its demystifying of one of history's wickedest men, a service to the justice that Josephine Tey first demanded in The Daughter of Time."--Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic

"Whether we accept Ms Mantel's reading of history or not, her characters have a lifeblood of their own . . . . a Shakespearean vigour. Stylistically, her fly-on-the-wall approach is achieved through the present tense, of which she is a master. Her prose is muscular, avoiding cod Tudor dialogue and going for direct modern English. The result is Ms Mantel's best novel yet."--The Economist

"A novel both fresh and finely wrought: a brilliant portrait of a society in the throes of disorienting change, anchored by a penetrating character study of Henry's formidable advisor, Thomas Cromwell. It's no wonder that her masterful book just won this year's Booker Prize . . . [Mantel's prose is] extraordinarily flexible, subtle, and shrewd."--Wendy Smith, The Washington Post

"A huge book, in its range, ambition . . . in its success. [Mantel's] interest is in the question of good and evil as it applies to people who wield great power. That means anguish, exultation, deals, spies, decapitations, and fabulous clothes . . . She always goes for color, richness, music. She has read Shakespeare closely. One also hears the accents of the young James Joyce."--Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

"Dazzling . . . .Thomas Cromwell remains a controversial and mysterious figure. Mantel has filled in the blanks plausibly, brilliantly. Wolf Hall has epic scale but lyric texture. Its 500-plus pages turn quickly, winged and falconlike . . . . both spellbinding and believable."--Christopher Benfey, The New York Times Book Review

"Mantel's abilities to channel the life and lexicon of the past are nothing short of astonishing. She burrows down through the historical record to uncover the tiniest, most telling details, evoking the minutiae of history as vividly as its grand sweep. The dialogue is so convincing that she seems to have been, in another life, a stenographer taking notes in the taverns and palaces of England."--Ross King, Los Angeles Times

"Darkly magnificent . . . Instead of bringing the past to us, her writing, brilliant and black, launches us disconcertingly into the past. We are space-time travelers landed in an alien world . . . history is a feast whose various and vital excitements and intrigues make the book a long and complex pleasure."--Richard Eder, The Boston Globe

"Arch, elegant, richly detailed . . . [Wolf Hall's] main characters are scorchingly well rendered. And their sharp-clawed machinations are presented with nonstop verve in a book that can compress a wealth of incisiveness into a very few well-chosen words . . . Deft and diabolical as they are, Ms. Mantel's slyly malicious turns of phrase . . . succinctly capture the important struggles that have set her characters talking."--Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Brilliant . . . A provocative, beautifully written book that ends much too soon."--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"The essential Mantel element . . . is a style--of writing and of thinking--that combines steely-eyed intelligence with intense yet wide-ranging sympathy. This style implies enormous respect for her readers, as if she believes that we are as intelligent and empathetic as she is, and one of the acute pleasures of reading her books is that we sometimes find ourselves living up to those expectations. . . . If you are anything like me, you will finish Wolf Hall wishing it were twice as long as its 560 pages. Torn away from this sixteenth-century world, in which you have come to know the engaging, pragmatic Cromwell as if he were your own brother--as if he were yourself--you will turn to the Internet to find out more about him . . . But none of this, however instructive will make up for your feeling of loss, because none of this additional material will come clothed in the seductive, inimitable language of Mantel's great fiction."--Wendy Lesser, Bookforum

"Mantel sets a new standard for historical fiction with her latest novel Wolf Hall, a riveting portrait of Thomas Cromwell . . . Mantel's crystalline style, piercing eye and interest in, shall we say, the darker side of human nature, together with a real respect for historical accuracy, make this novel an engrossing, enveloping read."--BookPage

"The story of Cromwell's rise shimmers in Ms. Mantel's spry intelligent prose . . . [Mantel] leaches out the bones of the story as it is traditionally known, and presents to us a phantasmagoric extravaganza of the characters' plans and ploys, toils and tactics."--Washington Times

"Historical fiction at its finest, Wolf Hall captures the character of a nation and its people. It exemplifies something that has lately seemed as mythical as those serpent princesses: the great English novel."--Bloomberg News

"Inspired . . . there are no new stories, only new ways of telling them. Set during Henry VIII's tumultuous, oft-covered reign, this epic novel . . . proves just how inspired a fresh take can be. [Mantel] is an author as audacious as Anne [Boleyn] herself, imagining private conversations between public figures and making it read as if she had a glass to the wall."--People Magazine (four stars, People Pick)

"A deft, original, but complicated novel. Fans of historical fiction--or great writing--should howl with delight."--USA Today

"[Mantel] wades into the dark currents of 16th century English politics to sculpt a drama and a protagonist with a surprisingly contemporary feel . . . Wolf Hall is sometimes an ambitious read. But it is a rewarding one as well."--Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor

"This masterwork is full of gems for the careful reader. The recurring details alone . . . shine through like some kind of Everyman's poetry. Plainspoken and occasionally brutal, Wolf Hall is both as complex and as powerful as its subject, as messy as life itself."--Clea Simon, The Boston Phoenix

"Reader, you're in excellent hands with Hilary Mantel . . . for this thrumming, thrilling read. . . . Part of the delight of masterfully paced Wolf Hall is how utterly modern it feels. It is political intrigue pulsing with energy and peopled by historical figures who have never seemed more alive--and more human."--Ellen Kanner, Miami Herald

"Wolf Hall is a solid historical novel that's also a compelling read . . . Mantel's narrative manages to be both rich and lean: there's plenty of detail, but it's not piled in endless paragraphs. The plot flows swiftly from one development to the next."--David Loftus, The Oregonian

"[Mantel] seamlessly blends fiction and history and creates a stunning story of Tudor England . . . . With its excellent plotting and riveting dialogue, Wolf Hall is a gem of a novel that is both accurate and gripping."--Cody Corliss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"[A] spirited novel . . . . Mantel has a solid grasp of court politics and a knack for sharp, cutting dialogue."--Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly

"This is in all respects a superior work of fiction, peopled with appealing characters living through a period of tense high drama'There will be few novels this year as good as this one."--Library Journal, starred review

"Mixing fiction with fact, Mantel captures the atmosphere of the times and brings to life the important players."--Publishers Weekly

From AudioFile

Simon Slater's inspired narration of this year's Booker Prize novel, set in the court of Henry VIII, is on every count one of this year's outstanding audiobooks. The story of Henry's endeavors to exchange Queen Catherine for Anne Boleyn is hardly new, but Mantel's account stands out for her graceful and textured prose, vivid depictions of the historical scene, and focus on the man in the background of the story, Thomas Cromwell. Slater conveys lowly characters and the grandees of court, church, and law with equal ease and authority. Especially memorable is his rendering of Cardinal Wolsey, a comic portrait that is at the same time poignant and deeply tragic. Memorable, too, are the detailed depictions of life in the 1520s, which Slater makes all too actual and close at hand. D.A.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Henry VIII's challenge to the church's power with his desire to divorce his queen and marry Anne Boleyn set off a tidal wave of religious, political and societal turmoil that reverberated throughout 16th-century Europe. Mantel boldly attempts to capture the sweeping internecine machinations of the times from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, the lowborn man who became one of Henry's closest advisers. Cromwell's actual beginnings are historically ambiguous, and Mantel admirably fills in the blanks, portraying Cromwell as an oft-beaten son who fled his father's home, fought for the French, studied law and was fluent in French, Latin and Italian. Mixing fiction with fact, Mantel captures the atmosphere of the times and brings to life the important players: Henry VIII; his wife, Katherine of Aragon; the bewitching Boleyn sisters; and the difficult Thomas More, who opposes the king. Unfortunately, Mantel also includes a distracting abundance of dizzying detail and Henry's all too voluminous political defeats and triumphs, which overshadows the more winning story of Cromwell and his influence on the events that led to the creation of the Church of England. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

PART 1

Across the Narrow Sea

PUTNEY, 1500

"So now get up."

Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned toward the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.

Blood from the gash on his head-- which was his

father's first effort-- is trickling across his face. Add to this, his left eye is blinded; but if he squints sideways, with his right eye he can see that the stitching of his father's boot is unraveling. The twine has sprung clear of the leather, and a hard knot in it has caught his eyebrow and opened another cut.

"So now get up!" Walter is roaring down at him, working out where to kick him next. He lifts his head an inch or two, and moves forward, on his belly, trying to do it without exposing his hands, on which Walter enjoys stamping. "What are you, an eel?" his parent asks. He trots backward, gathers pace, and aims another kick.

It knocks the last breath out of him; he thinks it may be his last. His forehead returns to the ground; he lies waiting, for Walter to jump on him. The dog, Bella, is barking, shut away in an out house. I'll miss my dog, he thinks. The yard smells of beer and blood. Someone is shouting, down on the riverbank. Nothing hurts, or perhaps it's that everything hurts, because there is no separate pain that he can pick out. But the cold strikes him, just in one place: just through his cheekbone as it rests on the cobbles.

"Look now, look now," Walter bellows. He hops on one foot, as if he's dancing. "Look what I've done. Burst my boot, kicking your head."

Inch by inch. Inch by inch forward. Never mind if he calls you an eel or a worm or a snake. Head down, don't provoke him. His nose is clotted with blood and he has to open his mouth to breathe. His father's momentary distraction at the loss of his good boot allows him the leisure to vomit. "That's right," Walter yells. "Spew everywhere." Spew everywhere, on my good cobbles. "Come on, boy, get up. Let's see you get up. By the blood of creeping Christ, stand on your feet."

Creeping Christ? he thinks. What does he mean? His head turns sideways, his hair rests in his own vomit, the dog barks, Walter roars, and bells peal out across the water. He feels a sensation of movement, as if the filthy ground has become the Thames. It gives and sways beneath him; he lets out his breath, one great final gasp. You've done it this time, a voice tells Walter. But he closes his ears, or God closes them for him. He is pulled downstream, on a deep black tide.

The next thing he knows, it is almost noon, and he is propped in the doorway of Pegasus the Flying Horse. His sister Kat is coming from the kitchen with a rack of hot pies in her hands. When she sees him she almost drops them. Her mouth opens in astonishment. "Look at you!"

"Kat, don't shout, it hurts me."

She bawls for her husband: "Morgan Williams!" She rotates on the spot, eyes wild, face flushed from the oven's heat. "Take this tray, body of God, where are you all?"

He is shivering from head to foot, exactly like Bella did when she fell off the boat that time.

A girl runs in. "The master's gone to town."

"I know that, fool." The sight of her brother had panicked the knowledge out of her. She thrusts the tray at the girl. "If you leave them where the cats can get at them, I'll box your ears till you see stars." Her hands empty, she clasps them for a moment in violent prayer. "Fighting again, or was it your father?"

Yes, he says, vigorously nodding, making his nose drop gouts of blood: yes, he indicates himself, as if to say, Walter was here. Kat calls for a basin, for water, for water in a basin, for a cloth, for the devil to rise up, right now, and take away Walter his servant. "Sit down before you fall down." He tries to explain that he has just got up. Out of the yard. It could be an hour ago, it could even be a day, and for all he knows, today might be tomorrow; except that if he had lain there for a day, surely either Walter would have come and killed him, for being in the way, or his wounds would have clotted a bit, and by now he would be hurting all over and almost too stiff to move; from deep experience of Walter's fists and boots, he knows that the second day can be worse than the first. "Sit. Don't talk," Kat says.

When the basin comes, she stands over him and works away, dabbing at his closed eye, working in small circles round and round at his hairline. Her breathing is ragged and her free hand rests on his shoulder. She swears under her breath, and sometimes she cries, and rubs the back of his neck, whispering, "There, hush, there," as if it were he who were crying, though he isn't. He feels as if he is floating, and she is weighting him to earth; he would like to put his arms around her and his face in her apron, and rest there listening to her heartbeat. But he doesn't want to mess her up, get blood all down the front of her.

When Morgan Williams comes in, he is wearing his good town coat. He looks Welsh and pugnacious; it's clear he's heard the news. He stands by Kat, staring down, temporarily out of words; till he says, "See!" He makes a fist, and jerks it three times in the air. "That!" he says. "That's what he'd get. Walter. That's what he'd get. From me."

"Just stand back," Kat advises. "You don't want bits of Thomas on your London jacket."

No more does he. He backs off. "I wouldn't care, but look at you, boy. You could cripple the brute in a fair fight."

"It never is a fair fight," Kat says. "He comes up behind you, right, Thomas? With something in his hand."

"Looks like a glass bottle, in this case," Morgan Williams says. "Was it a bottle?"

He shakes his head. His nose bleeds again.

"Don't do that, brother," Kat says. It's all over her hand; she wipes the blood clots down herself. What a mess, on her apron; he might as well have put his head there after all.

"I don't suppose you saw?" Morgan says. "What he was wielding, exactly?"

"That's the value," says Kat, "of an approach from behind-- you sorry loss to the magistrates' bench. Listen, Morgan, shall I tell you about my father? He'll pick up whatever's to hand. Which is sometimes a bottle, true. I've seen him do it to my mother. Even our little Bet, I've seen him hit her over the head. Also I've not seen him do it, which was worse, and that was because it was me about to be felled."

"I wonder what I've married into," Morgan Williams says.

But really, this is just something Morgan says; some men have a habitual sniffle, some women have a headache, and Morgan has this wonder. The boy doesn't listen to him; he thinks, if my father did that to my mother, so long dead, then maybe he killed her? No, surely he'd have been taken up for it; Putney's lawless, but you don't get away with murder. Kat's what he's got for a mother: crying for him, rubbing the back of his neck.

He shuts his eyes, to make the left eye equal with the right; he tries to open both. "Kat," he says, "I have got an eye under there, have I? Because it can't see anything." Yes, yes, yes, she says, while Morgan Williams continues his interrogation of the facts; settles on a hard, moderately heavy, sharp object, but possibly not a broken bottle, otherwise Thomas would have seen its jagged edge, prior to Walter splitting his eyebrow open and aiming to blind him. He hears Morgan forming up this theory and would like to speak about the boot, the knot, the knot in the twine, but the effort of moving his mouth seems disproportionate to the reward. By and large he agrees with Morgan's conclusion; he tries to shrug, but it hurts so much, and he feels so crushed and disjointed, that he wonders if his neck is broken.

"Anyway," Kat says, "what were you doing, Tom, to set him off? He usually won't start up till after dark, if it's for no cause at all."

"Yes," Morgan Williams says, "was there a cause?"

"Yesterday. I was fighting."

"You were fighting yesterday? Who in the holy name were you fighting?"

"I don't know." The name, along with the reason, has dropped out of his head; but it feels as if, in exiting, it has removed a jagged splinter of bone from his skull. He touches his scalp, carefully. Bottle? Possible.

"Oh," Kat says, "they're always fighting. Boys. Down by the river."

"So let me be sure I have this right," Morgan says. "He comes home yesterday with his clothes torn and his knuckles skinned, and the old man says, what's this, been fighting? He waits a day, then hits him with a bottle. Then he knocks him down in the yard, kicks him all over, beats up and down his length with a plank of wood that comes to hand . . ."

"Did he do that?"

"It's all over the parish! They were lining up on the wharf to tell me, they were shouting at me before the boat tied up. Morgan Williams, listen now, your wife's father has beaten Thomas and he's crawled dying to his sister's house, they've called the priest... Did you call the priest?"

"Oh, you Williamses!" Kat says. "You think you're such big people around here. People are lining up to tell you things. But why is that? It's because you believe anything."

"But it's right!" Morgan yells. "As good as right! Eh? If you leave out the priest. And that he's not dead yet."

"You'll make that magistrates' bench for sure," Kat says, "with your close study of the difference between a corpse and my brother."

"When I'm a magistrate, I'll have your father in the stocks. Fine him? You can't fine him enough. What's the point of fining a person who will only go and rob or swindle monies to the same value out of some innocent who crosses his path?"

He moans: tries to do it without intruding.

"There, there, there," Kat whispers.

"I'd say the magistrates have had their bellyful," Morgan says. "If he's not watering his ale he's running illegal beasts on the common, if he's not despoiling the common he's assaultin...

From The Washington Post

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Wendy Smith Henry VIII's quest to make Anne Boleyn his queen has inspired reams of historical fiction, much of it trashy and most of it trite. Yet from this seemingly shopworn material, Hilary Mantel has created a novel both fresh and finely wrought: a brilliant portrait of a society in the throes of disorienting change, anchored by a penetrating character study of Henry's formidable adviser, Thomas Cromwell. It's no wonder that her masterful book won the Man Booker Prize last week. Mantel's choice of protagonist signals her intelligence and artistic ambition. Cromwell was the quintessential 16th-century New Man, the son of a blacksmith who rose through Cardinal Wolsey's patronage and survived the cardinal's downfall to become the most powerful civil servant in Tudor England. Historians have long acknowledged Cromwell as the administrative genius who transformed a medieval fiefdom into a modern nation-state, but only an exceedingly bold novelist could envision this odyssey as the stuff of gripping fiction. From the moment we see young Thomas knocked to the ground by his brutal father to the grim final scene at the execution of his enemy Thomas More in 1535, readers are intimately engaged in Cromwell's emotions and calculations. Mantel puts us inside the head of this secretive, complicated man, illuminating motives often misunderstood by others. Convincing Henry that only he can deliver the marriage and the absolute authority the king wants is a means to an end; Cromwell intends to make England a better place for the common people among whom he was born by destroying the corrupt Catholic clergy he despises and limiting the power of the entrenched aristocrats who despise him. He plans to get very rich along the way. Cromwell understands this better than anyone else in the novel. He observes, evaluates and makes his moves, but never shows his hand. He's a committed, albeit covert Protestant who runs uncharacteristic risks to protect the new movement's more militant adherents from the heretic-burning More (acidly depicted as a cruel, sanctimonious egomaniac nothing like the saintly hero of "A Man for All Seasons"). But Cromwell realizes that Henry, who would happily remain Catholic if the pope would just give him what he wants, can only be led to the Reformation through his desire for Anne Boleyn. And though Cromwell respects Anne, a fellow upstart on the make, he's not staking his career on her ability to arrest the king's roving eye. "Any little girl can hold the key to the future," he thinks as he chats with mousy young lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour. The Seymour family estate, Wolf Hall, gives the novel its title; the scandalous goings-on there -- Jane's father has been caught in flagrante with his son's wife -- serve as a metaphor for the licentious, overprivileged society through which Cromwell adroitly maneuvers. Alone among the self-absorbed plotters at Henry's court, he sees that this society is increasingly irrelevant. Listening to a disgruntled earl pontificate about "ancient rights," Cromwell wonders how he can explain real life to this clueless nobleman. "The world is not run from where he thinks. Not from his border fortresses, not even from Whitehall. The world is run from Antwerp, from Florence, from places he has never imagined . . . not from castle walls, but from countinghouses, not by the call of a bugle but by the click of the abacus." Cromwell belongs to this rising global order; he's been a wool trader in Antwerp and a banker in Florence, as well as a foot soldier in some continental army and a cook in an Italian kitchen. Sophisticated yet down-to-earth, he's not intimidated by England's insular elite, though he recognizes the power it holds. If Anne has a son and Henry lives another 20 years to bequeath the crown to an adult heir, he reckons, "I can build my own prince: to the glorification of God and the commonwealth of England." That doesn't happen, of course, though resourceful Cromwell survives Elizabeth's birth and climbs still higher as the indispensable facilitator of Henry's schemes. Yet even readers unaware that he fell from favor and was executed as a traitor in 1540 -- five years beyond the novel's close and never hinted at in the text -- will sense that Cromwell's success can't last. The bleakly knowing veteran of poverty, prejudice and loss delineated here surely senses it, too. A fiercely loyal friend, determined protector of kin, mentor of sharp young plebeians wherever he finds them, Cromwell nonetheless takes it as a given that "man is wolf to man." Mantel has explored this uncomfortable idea in previous works, discerning no more kindness among the contemporary characters in "Vacant Possession" or "Beyond Black" than among the 18th-century combatants in "The Giant, O'Brien" or "A Place of Greater Safety." Like these predecessors, "Wolf Hall" is uncompromising and unsentimental, though alert readers will detect an underlying strain of gruff tenderness. Similarly, Mantel's prose is as plain as her protagonist (who's sensitive about his looks), but also (like Cromwell) extraordinarily flexible, subtle and shrewd. Enfolding cogent insights into the human soul within a lucid analysis of the social, economic and personal interactions that drive political developments, Mantel has built on her previous impressive achievements to write her best novel yet.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics were not surprised at Mantel's Booker Prize win, despite stiff competition that included A. S. Byatt's The Children's Book and J. M. Coetzee's Summertime. Wolf Hall offers a fascinating and expertly researched look at a man famously villainized in the play and film A Man for All Seasons and Showtimes's more recent bodice-ripping series The Tudors. Despite the effusive praise, critics thought that the vast array of characters (many named Thomas) and titles of nobility may leave some readers scratching their heads despite the guide Mantel provides in the book. Nevertheless, this intriguing human portrait should leave most readers anticipating the promised sequel. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.