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Wolf Hall Paperback – 4 Mar 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 2,461 customer reviews

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A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
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Frequently bought together

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  • Bring up the Bodies
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  • Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII's most faithful servant
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Product details

  • Paperback: 674 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007230206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007230204
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,461 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009 'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.' England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages. From one of our finest living writers, 'Wolf Hall' is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion, suffering and courage. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
How do you review a book that has been around for so long, been staged and on tv? I have recently reread this book for another project, and been overwhelmed by just how good it is, and how reluctant I was to finish it. My previous comments on it revolve largely around how long it took me to read it, how tricky it was to follow, and such like moans. It is still a long book, an undertaking to read, and requires a new mind set to appreciate the new view it offers of a time, place and people. Diana Athill wrote “I can’t think of anything since Middlemarch which so convincingly creates a world.” As Middlemarch is a favourite of mine for its creation of a time, place and people, I can completely understand what she means.
Wolf Hall is a book about Thomas Cromwell. It is told from his point of view, but not in the first person. This creates a narrative in which we see the world through Thomas’ eyes, be where he is, know something of what he knows, but we can also pull back and see him, asking questions of himself as he sorts out the lives of others. Thomas in this version is a ‘fixer’, the supreme pragmatist who does what has to be done to whoever needs sorting out. His memory is a blessing in this work, but a curse as he copes with the loss of his wife and daughters. The loss of his family haunts this book, as does his awareness of ghosts of the past, those who lived in a house before him, and Cardinal Wolsey’s enormous personality. He copes with the women of the court, Anne, Katherine, Mary and the others that serve them with caution and sometimes confusion, seeing them as another problem to solve as well as possible actors in his scenarios. King Henry is sometimes a child to be placated, an impossible, querulous dictator.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely wonderfully written look at the Tudor Court - not ,as usual, from the royal perspective, but from that of secretary Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a mysterious character, rising as he did from the son of a blacksmith to one of the most important men in England. Ms Mantel has crafted a kind of stream of consciousness novel, combining actual events with the thoughts and feelings inside his head - like other reviewers I found this a challenge to begin with, but it works to flesh out Cromwell as we follow his actions.
All set against the precarious world of Henry VIII's court, where the king may turn on you at any time:

'The cardinal says, do you think this is a tilting ground? Do you think there are rules, protocols, judges to see fair play? One day, when you are still adjusting your harness, you will look up and see him thundering at you downhill.'
Planning to read the sequel once I've had a breather!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Still loving the history of England by audio. I struggle with some of the books but put it into the spoken word and I'm transported down the halls and into the chambers of the past - love it
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved the TV series, but didnt like the book at all. Written in a way that really irritated me. Sorry. Persisted for several chapters and then put it away, never to be read again........
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you haven't read this book then you really should. I think this is and the sequel Bring Up the Bodies are in my top 10 books of all time. I enjoyed this from start to finish and am always recommending it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great book but it's difficult to follow on kindle, I had to switch to a paperback to finish it, the characters all have similar names and the relationships are tangled, in the paperback they have a guide at the front you can flick back to. I only managed to finish it after a friend suggested reading it on paperback.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I adore this book. The richness of the research, the clarity and freshness of the writing are wonderful. But mostly I love how Mantel makes Cromwell such a fully faceted human being that you like him and are rooting for him from the first line of the first page. Sheer genius. Well deserving of all its accolades.
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I enjoyed the novel because the author ties the historical and religious movements of the time into the living conditions experienced by different strata of English society and makes this the context for the development of the characters and their careers. It covers a longish period of time, starting with quite detailed descriptions of events to set the scene and then moving through the life and career of the principal characters and basically sampling their experiences and interactions over a period of years. This would be easier if you were sitting down for extended periods to read it, but I was reading it in the evening over a 10 day period, so I did have to check back from time to time to remind myself of who some of the people were and what had happened to others. Nonetheless I enjoyed the book and will return to this author in the future.
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