Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wolf Hall Read Along: Review and Final Thoughts

Book: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆
For: Read Along co-hosted with Jessica from The Bluestocking Society
From: book bought from Borders going-out-of-business sale

Thanks so much to those of you who picked up Wolf Hall and read along with us! I'd love to know how the ride was for you all! Please link up your final thoughts in the linky below.

As for me, I found this to be quite the interesting experience. This book was unlike any other historical fiction I've ever read! And I'm not sure I can explain why. But here goes.

As most of you know, the story follows the life and career of Thomas Cromwell as he comes to be a close adviser of Henry VIII, England's crazy king famous for marrying many women and then chopping off their heads. You know the one?

He had a perfectly nice wife, and as far as I can tell (especially from other books I've read on the subject)  the marriage was a fairly happy one. However, he was desperate to have a boy baby to pass on the kingdom to. When his first wife, Katherine failed (funny how we now know it's the dad's fault whether a baby is a boy or a girl!!!) he wanted to divorce her by declaring their long marriage a fraud, and marry Anne Boleyn.

This book is the story of how he did just that with help from Thomas Cromwell.

The story behind this portrait was told, including the  thought
that Thomas felt like he looked like a murderer here!

In other books I've read, I'm quite sure I didn't find Thomas Cromwell likable  Well, of course, in this book he was awesome. He's portrayed as a sweet family man, and man who had a listening ear to many of the girls in the court who needed to vent (including Jane Seymour) and also a man who seemed to have a very calming effect on the king himself.

He went about his business of changing the whole course of British history with such an easy demeanor. I enjoyed this portrayal, though I still have my doubts he was truly this way. And now it makes me wonder what he was REALLY like!

The writing style, as has been mentioned before, was a most unusual one. His name was rarely mentioned, and he was just HE throughout. A paragraph would start with someone else..... like "As King Henry entered the room, he smiled." So... is the he the king? No, it's Cromwell. That made for some very very confusing moments! But, after awhile, one gets used to it I suppose! But, wow, so strange.

And conversation was often hard to follow too, with a sometimes yes, sometimes no, use of quotation marks. It was just kind of whatever she felt like through in at the moment. It gave it a very stream of conscious feel to it. You really had to be paying attention.

But all that aside, it must have worked, because as a reader, I felt very much into the story. Though I still say that a lot of the political stuff goes right over my head. I also had a hard time keeping track of characters and who was who. It helped to be a little familiar with the events though, even just a little.

Another interesting thing is the title. The whole title is a foreshadowing  Wolf Hall, the home of Jane Seymour is mentioned a couple of times, but as the book ends, and in fact the last line, refers to arranging Henry's schedule that next summer to spend some time there. Well, we all know what happens! (We do, don't we?)

If not, there's a next book... Bring up the Bodies! Sounds awesome, right? Much beheading to ensue! Let's go for it!

Bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this time in history, though it did make me want to re-read Alison Weir's book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, where everything is laid out so very clear! (If you enjoy this saga and haven't read it yet, I highly recommend!)

And now, I'd love for our fellow participants to write a final thought post and link up here:


  1. I'm still struggling through this! While I like the story, the writing and style (and length) are really off-putting.

    I, too, wonder what Mr. Cromwell was REALLY like. I'm betting it is somewhere between the villianized versions in other books and the worshipized version here.

    I do plan on finishing and reading BRING UP THE BODIES. Thank you, Suey, and everyone else that read along!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it. The writing style sounds too evil for me to read it. I already have a hard enough time with classics and books written in those eras. I am interested in that time period, though. I love the Tudor era.

  3. I absolutely adore the Tudor era and even bad writing or hard writing won't put me of it. The length of this one worries me, though, and I've always preferred these stories told from a woman's perspective.

  4. I wish I had read this! One day...

  5. I want this Cromwell to be the real Cromwell but I wonder ... Fun to read along with you.



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