Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beachreader's Review - Wolf Hall

Title: Wolf Hall
Author: Hilary Mantel
Published:  2009, Henry Holt and Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
Accolades:  2009 Man Booker Prize winner, 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award winner, 2010 short list for The Orange Prize

Wolf Hall is a very detailed book that chronicles the life of Thomas Cromwell focusing on his impact on the house of Tudors and Henry VIII.  The book is divided into two sections with the first emphasizing the fall of Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York and Cromwell's patron and the second half the rise of Cromwell and his role in the separation of England from the Catholic church, so that Henry VIII can marry Anne Boleyn.

I have been sitting here trying to figure out how to write about an award-winning book that is masterfully crafted and amazingly detailed in its historical accuracy, but that I just didn't enjoy.  I have been trying to pinpoint what it was that didn't captivate.  I think one thing that put me off on this book is that I did not really care about Thomas Cromwell - I didn't form a bond, so to speak, with the character.  I was more interested in the people around Cromwell than Cromwell himself.  The other characters seemed more intriguing and life-like with Cromwell almost like a shadow figure.  But maybe that's what Mantle was doing in her book, focusing on the historical story through Cromwell's eyes.

Is this book worth reading? I would say yes, because of the historical element, but it goes slowly - at least for me.  I read three other books while reading Wolf Hall because I needed a book that was more gripping, more alive. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Am with you on this one. With all the prizes and accolades I felt obligated to enjoy this but in fact when I was three quarters through I was quite happy to lend it to my sister.