Brief reviews of mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
This is the story of Thomas Cromwell as he ascends through the civil power hierarchy during the reign of Henry VIII (1500-1535). To a certain extent the focus is on his battle with Sir Thomas More, though Henry, Anne Boleyn, her father and her sister Mary, Cardinal Wolsey, Norfolk and Suffolk, Jane Seymour, and many other historical figures are depicted in very human detail. Cromwell's political dealings show him to be eternally pragmatic, but his family life shows a gentle and loving side. The reading by Simon Slater was masterly, turning Mantel's prose into poetry. Two sequels are planned, Bring Up the Bodies, which tracks the downfall of Anne Boleyn, and The Mirror And The Light, which traces Cromwell's own downfall. Wolf Hall makes it clear that downfalls are inevitable in Henry's court, though it wasn't clear to me why the book was called Wolf Hall, residence of the Seymours.