Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: Wolf Hall (Wolf Hall #1) by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall (Wolf Hall #1) by Hilary Mantel
Release Date: 1st April 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback 
Pages: 650
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2013 OTS, 2013 ODY and 2013 GVR

Summary from Amazon:
"In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power.
buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death."

I'm actually finding it a bit hard to sort out my thoughts on this book. On the one hand, I really like reading historical fiction and this book was definitely interesting. But on the other, nothing particularly surprised me in this book, and being surprised by the plot is one of the things I most enjoy about reading. Having already watched The Tudors on TV (which is amazing, by the way), I already had some understanding of the going-ons at the Tudor Court, and as a result, I pretty much knew the whole story. Granted, this was told from someone else's perspective, but it all boiled down to the same story. 

So now I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, because I just cannot sort out my thoughts on this book. Would I have enjoyed it more had I not seen The Tudors first? Probably, but I really can't be sure. This book was very long and extremely dense for me, and that could have overwhelmed me if I didn't already know the plot. In this sense, having already seen The Tudors pushed me to keep reading this book, because I knew the plot would be interesting. 

Overall, I think that hardcore historical fans will really enjoy this book, but I wouldn't say this book is for everyone. What I would recommend is watching The Tudors - that show is seriously good. 


  1. Great review..Any plans on reading 'Bring Up the Bodies'?


    1. I'm not entirely sure to be honest! Maybe some day in the future, but I'm not going to be rushing out to get my hands on it. Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. I've not seen The Tudors, so maybe that helped me enjoy Wolf Hall better...but then, I don't really mind knowing what's going on in a historical novel. I thought the interesting thing was to be looking at it from Cromwell's perspective. :)

    Hopefully you get around to reading Bring up the Bodies at some point!

    1. I think for me, I just love it when a book completely surprises you. I love when there's an OMG moment where you actually have to stop reading for a moment and just let it sink it. So reading a book that I already knew the general gist to just didn't have any of those moments. Although, reading from Cromwell's point of view was interesting.

      Thanks for stopping by :)


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