Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Source: Personal Copy 
Pages: 657 

In Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel brings her readers into the ruthless court of the famous Henry VIII. Mantel portray Thomas Cromwell and allows him to tell his story through the first person narrative. Thomas Cromwell a self made man, who rose from being abused by his blacksmith father to being the man standing beside Henry. Henry was focused and determined to annul his marriage to Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn. A young beautiful girl would bring no treaty, no land and no money to the crown. Despite his advisors wanting to marry him to a french princess, Henry had his own goals in mind. Anne Boleyn would be his wife and he would stop at nothing to ensure she would be his. Although, his legal team are not sure how to present Anne Boleyn as a credible match. Thomas Cromwell had a huge influence over Henry and through 'Wolf Hall' we are brought behind the scenes with Henry's legal team. 

Wolf Hall is a large novel, meticulously researched and very well written. There are countless books written about the Tudors and I've never read anything like this before. The style is very distinct and enjoyable. However, at times it is confusing. I don't recommend this book if you don't have a firm knowledge about the Tudors. There are many Thomas' however, that is the fault of Tudor England. At times I had trouble with the flow of the novel. I believe it is due to that large size, I did try to pace myself but found myself not wanting to pick it up. It's the type of novel you can't pick up for 10 minutes you really need to devote time to reading it. 

This book has many mixed reviews and I do see both perspectives. I think the style was different for many readers. Although, I did enjoy the novel it is not one of my favorite reads. I think Mantel is an amazing writer but I had a hard time remaining interested in the book. I kept wondering who 'he' was. I felt like I hardly ever came into contact with Anne or Henry. Main characters in Tudor England have minimal roles in the novel. The book reads more as a dialogue between the legal team. If you're wondering if you should read this, I recommend trying it. There were times when I loved the book, and other times I felt like I would never finish. If you do read it, pace yourself.


  1. I have this in my tbr pile. I think I picked it up at the library sale. Maybe it will go back unread. I don't like books that feel like a chore to read. Thanks for your honest thoughts.

  2. Great review. Wolf Hall is one of my all-time favourite reads, but I can understand how it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. Glad you enjoyed it overall.

  3. I'm not much of a historical fiction reader, so this probably isn't for me.

  4. A historical fiction legal thriller...I have not come across that before. Thanks for the review!

  5. Great perspective into the details and awareness of what's ahead for the reader. I am quite impressed by the enormity of Tudor history these days. This bodes well for history lovers and there's always more to learn from the past. Great review Mrs Q.

  6. I agree with your comments completley ! While I appreciated the different take on Tudors as well I read this awhile ago and I found it very confusing with all of the Thomas's and he's too!

  7. I've heard a lot about this book and I do own a copy, but am waiting to read it. I need to be able to not be distracted and settle down with it.

  8. I do want to read this, but I'm also worried about the very issues mentioned. I guess I'll give it a try some time.

  9. Thanks for an honest review of a complex book. I think you're right to be cautious in recommending it to your readers - its style is definitely divisive, and some people will find it close to unreadable.

    Incidentally, I've never seen the cover you have listed at the top of the post - is it the Canadian one? (A guess, based on your 'About' page)

    Anyway, my review is here if interested: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

  10. Really love this take on Thomas Cromwell and the Tudor court. Writing is amazing. Lots of characters and a little hard to keep track at first, but they come alive as flesh and blood individuals. Read it -- and Bring Up the Bodies, amazing too!

    Highly recommended Alaskan Brown Bear Hunts grizzly