Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thoughts: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This book is a tome. It needs a lot of commitment to get through it, but in my opinion it was very much worth it. I started reading this book in English but it was extremely hard to follow for me (not just because nearly every other character's name is Thomas) and thus I got a German copy from my library. It still was a lot of work but at least I knew what was going on.

Hilary Mantel is a breathtaking, witty and sophisticated writer. I loved reading about the distribution of power, intrigue and manipulation at the British royal court in the 1620s. King Henry VIII is in need for a male heir, that's why he wants to get a divorce from Queen Katherine, but the pope wouldn't let him have one. So Henry needs to become not only head of state but head of church in Britain to marry Anne Boleyn. The man helping him to get what he wants is Thomas Cromwell, an eloquent  and persuasive man, who does not only represent the King's interests but his own, too. Though Cromwell is a manipulator I got the impression of him as an amiable character. Being the son of a blacksmith, he worked his way up to court, gaining more and more influence, enemies and friends.

The writing was also very amusing and entertaining. I often found myself laughing or wanting to read passages to my partner to share the fun or to discuss things that were going on. We enjoyed talking about the book and some times (evenings, weekends) he asked me to read out loud for us.

I think Mantel found a bold but all new sight on British history. Wolf Hall is not a piece of historical fiction from the rack but a work of epic force, sharing new ideas, which very well deserved a prestigious award like the Booker prize.

My favorite quote:
“It is all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it's no good at all if you don't have a plan for tomorrow.”


  1. I would love to read this one, and purchased it some time ago, but I have to admit that the size of the book has put me off. I read on the way to and from work and it is a massive book to lug around for the time it would take to finish it. Its nice to be reminded though that it might be worth the effort!

  2. Yeah, even the paper back edition is too bulky to carry around in a hand bag easily. I hope you'll get it some time.

  3. Hi, I have had this book for a while but I haven't yet picked it up. I find the size a bit daunting. Thank you for the review! New follower here, and will try reading your German page too to practice!

  4. Hi Lindsay, thank you for following me. I hope you enjoy reading my German blog too, because it is pretty new and I am not sure how much audience it will attract.

  5. You know, I really wanted to like this book but I couldn't - I just found it boring. I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I did though!