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Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Hilary Mantel
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,206 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The greatest literary sensation of recent times – and now the inspiration for a major BBC series, starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis and directed by Peter Kosminsky.

In this staggeringly brilliant novel, Hilary Mantel brings the opulent, brutal world of the Tudors to bloody, glittering life. It is the backdrop to the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell: lowborn boy, charmer, bully, master of deadly intrigue and, finally, most powerful of Henry VIII’s courtiers.

Both winners of the Man Booker Prize and already hugely successful stage plays, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES have now been transformed into a BBC television series starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis, bringing history to life for a whole new audience.


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Review

“A stunning book. It breaks free of what the novel has become nowadays. I can’t think of anything since Middlemarch which so convincingly builds a world.” Diana Athill

"A fascinating read, so good I rationed myself. It is remarkable and very learned; the texture is marvellously rich, the feel of Tudor London and the growing household of a man on the rise marvellously authentic. Characters real and imagined spring to life, from the childish and petulant King to Thomas Wolsey's jester, and it captures the extrovert, confident, violent mood of the age wonderfully." C.J. Sansom

"A magnificent achievement: the scale of its vision and the fine stitching of its detail; the teeming canvas of characters; the style with its clipped but powerful immediacy; the wit, the poetry and the nuance." Sarah Dunant

“A superb novel, beautifully constructed, and an absolutely compelling read. Mantel has created a novel of Tudor times which persuades us that we are there, at that moment, hungry to know what happens next. It is the making of our English world, and who can fail to be stirred by it?” Helen Dunmore

"This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world...Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers." Olivia Laing, Observer

"As soon as I opened the book I was gripped. I read it almost non-stop. When I did have to put it down, I was full of regret that the story was over, a regret I still feel. This is a wonderful and intelligently imagined retelling of a familiar tale from an unfamiliar angle.' The Times 'Mantel is a writer who sees the skull beneath the skin, the worm in the bud, the child abuse in the suburbs and the rat in the mattress!Turning her attention to Tudor England, she makes that world at once so concrete you can smell the rain-drenched wool cloaks!This is a splendidly ambitious book!I wait greedily for the sequel, but "Wolf Hall" is already a feast." Daily Telegraph

"A compelling and humane investigation of the cost of ambition.' Guardian 'Mantel's ability to pick out vivid scenes from sources and give them life within her fiction is quite exceptional!Vividly alive." London Review of Books

About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books, including A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, BEYOND BLACK, and the memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST. Her two most recent novels, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES, have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize – an unprecedented achievement.


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More About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books , including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving up the Ghost. Her two most recent novels, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring up the Bodies have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize - an unprecedented achievement.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,306 of 1,398 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it me, or is the grammar atrocious...? 13 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My first book review, and I'm writing it because I'm annoyed. After reading much praise and noticing Mantel had won the booker prize I bought myself a Kindle version, but within a few pages I started becoming distracted by the structure of the writing.

I hesitate to challenge Mantel's grammar because I already know how well this book has been received, but from my point of view it's all over the place. I'm well aware that the rules of syntax can be broken for a number of good reasons, but if Mantel's approach is deliberate then it's completely lost on me.

The first problem is the use of the word 'he', at every opportunity, to refer to all of the three, four, or five people participating in the same scene. You're often left having to re-read every other sentence and to try and guess which person is speaking or being referred to. So determined to stick pronouns everywhere the author often puts one unnecessarily in front of a person's name "He, Cromwell, said..."

The second problem is the inconsistent format for denoting speech. Sometimes it has quotes around it, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you're reading something a character is thinking followed by what he's saying and then, even, what the narrator thinks about it, but without any syntactical indication of which is which.

Elsewhere there are multiple people speaking in the same paragraph, with and without quotes. Why?

Here's a good example of much of the above - all quotes and commas exactly as in the text:

'Yes, yes,' Cavendish says, 'we'll order up the barge.'
Good, he says, and the cardinal says, Putney? and he tries to laugh. He says, well, Thomas, you told Gascoigne, you did; there's something about that man I never have liked, and he says, why did you keep him them?
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671 of 720 people found the following review helpful
By James
Format:Paperback
She, the reviewer, thinks that she, Mantel, has written a novel which manages to be both stimulating and frustrating. She starts to ask herself `Why did she detract from the quality of her work by adopting such a silly writing style?' but then she remembers that she, Mantel, often doesn't put speech inside speech marks, and so she resolves not to do so for the rest of her review.

She, the reviewer, says, she has written a wonderfully plausible account of his, Cromwell's, thought processes. Which other novel does a better job of getting inside the mind of a major historical character, she asks herself. None that she can think of, she concludes. And she appreciates how wonderfully, through the medium of his thoughts, she has managed to illuminate life in Tudor London. She very much enjoys some of the rich humour in her descriptions of his dealings with people at all levels of society ranging from him, Henry, down to near-paupers. She also marvels at her wide-ranging research, which provides a wealth of historical detail and contains almost no errors. She says, almost, because she does detect a few minor mistakes, for example her description of his, Cromwell's, accusation that one of his, Norfolk's, ancestors helped to "disappear" the princes in the tower; which leads her to say, doesn't she, Mantel, realise that the use of "disappear" as a transitive verb only started in the late 20th century and was surely unknown in Tudor England? But she forgives her for such minor lapses: she says, they aren't important when set against all the good things in the book.

But then she thinks of a few things that perhaps are important blemishes.
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893 of 969 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but no need for it to be so confusing 21 Oct. 2009
Format:Hardcover
Have finished this book and am sure it's very worthy of all the accolades but I really found this quite a hard slog and I'm quite a prolific reader. The story is really interesting but I am so glad to see other reviewers on here that had the same horrendous problem of trying to follow who was talking whenever there is any dialogue. Fair enough to refer to Cromwell as "he" if you're going to stick to that and use it exclusively, but when you use "he" for other people during the same conversation, it's really confusing and I found myself having to re-read paragraphs containing dialogue (as a result this took me so much longer to read than normal and I feel like I've read it 3 times). Obviously am not one to comment on such a good writer but it would have been so much more of a pleasure (rather than a chore) to read if it had been either written in first person or clearer reference used as to who is talking.
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722 of 803 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent tale 16 Jun. 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Anyone who paid attention in history classes at school will need little background to the events of Wolf Hall. The key events of the story take place over just less than a ten year period from the 1520s to the 1530s. Mantel has taken what is, supposedly, Britain's best loved history topic, Henry VIII and his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, marriage to Anne Boleyn and the resulting split with Rome and has melded it into a compelling story.

She has obviously had some of her work done for her - the key dramatic events, characters, plots and intrigue are fairly heavily based in fact, but what Mantel has done is to breathe life and substance into the historial figures to make them loveable, hateable, complex characters. At the centre of her book stands Thomas Cromwell, a man from humble origins who rose to unprecedented power in England as Henry's chief minister. Cromwell is beautifully portrayed and his personal relationships, be they loving, tragic or political are fascinating reading. The relationships with Wolsey and More in particular are executed wonderfully (no pun intended in the latter case).

My only grumble with the book were that some events are included, but skated over in short passages and other events are included, but drag a little. This is probably an inevitable part of a historical novel covering such a long period of time; you can't simply leap forward 2 years and avoid the need to understand certain intervening events. However, whilst this slows the pace of the book in places, I enjoyed the book so much that it didn't particularly spoil it for me (indeed, those who prefer a fast paced novel are probably not going to enjoy Wolf Hall).

The book ends shortly after the death of Thomas More, and I can't be only one who wonders (and hopes) whether we might yet see a second, "decline and fall" book. I'd certainly love to read it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very badly written.
Published 22 hours ago by Charmaine Welch
1.0 out of 5 stars Present tense writing is just lazy writing
I am unable to read a book written entirely in the present tense. For me reading is like going underwater, you need to get within waves and being carried by the language. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Gaia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brill
Published 2 days ago by Vicki G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 6 days ago by Mrs S M Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mammoth But Highly Enjoyable Read!
This is a real mammoth read, even in Unabridged Audiobook format - 21 CDS, split into two volumes. However, the opening scene is so well written it hooks the reader in from the... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Musical anorak
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Sense of menace and madness of Henry well conveyed.
Published 8 days ago by Peternell Truscott
1.0 out of 5 stars catastrophic
This book proves that no matter how brilliant a writer may be an unedited porridge makes for a dreadful reading experience. Shame on the publisher . . . Read more
Published 8 days ago by Jonathan Veale
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Brilliant novel
Published 8 days ago by William H M Bailie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent
Published 10 days ago by Florence
3.0 out of 5 stars Parsons egg book
Much of the plot is interesting, and the characterisations are believable. However the writing style is varied - especially the often ambiguous use of 'he'; and direct and indirect... Read more
Published 10 days ago by John P
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