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14 reviews

Wolf Hall: A Novel
by Hilary Mantel

Published: 2009-10-13
Paperback : 0 pages
21 members reading this now
39 clubs reading this now
20 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 14 members

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

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. ...

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Introduction

(

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

England 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.



Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: No character in the canon has been writ larger than Henry VIII, but that didn't stop Hilary Mantel. She strides through centuries, past acres of novels, histories, biographies, and plays--even past Henry himself--confident in the knowledge that to recast history's most mercurial sovereign, it's not the King she needs to see, but one of the King's most mysterious agents. Enter Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man and remarkable polymath who ascends to the King's right hand. Rigorously pragmatic and forward-thinking, Cromwell has little interest in what motivates his Majesty, and although he makes way for Henry's marriage to the infamous Anne Boleyn, it's the future of a free England that he honors above all else and hopes to secure. Mantel plots with a sleight of hand, making full use of her masterful grasp on the facts without weighing down her prose. The opening cast of characters and family trees may give initial pause to some readers, but persevere: the witty, whip-smart lines volleying the action forward may convince you a short stay in the Tower of London might not be so bad... provided you could bring a copy of Wolf Hall along. --Anne Bartholomew

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Does the present-tense story-telling heighten the involvement of the reader?
by DebraF (see profile) 04/23/10

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Wolf Hall"by GreenArr0w (see profile) 02/10/14

I've read quite a number of books based on English history and I think this was the most brilliantly written! I also loved Bring Up the bodies & am anxiously awaiting the third in the trilogy.

 
  "The Entire Book Club Hated It"by mlnjacobs (see profile) 09/17/13

I can't give much of a review, as I gave up trying to read this confusing mess at 7% (on kindle.) This is not normally my type of book, but I expected the rest of the club to like it. I was shocked when... (read more)

 
  "Where was the editor?"by tompatrice (see profile) 09/18/12

This book had potential and could have perhaps been a decent read if it was cut in half. Where was the editor? Out on a coffee break? The overuse of pronouns instead of identifying the person speaking... (read more)

 
  "Wolf Hall is wonderful"by debbieg1272 (see profile) 09/15/12

Wolf Hall is a long book and sometimes hard to keep all the names straight, but it is a great read about the story of Henry VIII and Anne Bolyn. Very addictive and as I got further into the book hard to... (read more)

 
  "Wolf hall"by rnns1999 (see profile) 09/14/12

Although I was very interested in the subject of this book, I found the writing style slow and difficult to read. The portrayals of the key characters would have been good, if I could get past the writing... (read more)

 
  "Too much detail!"by kffcmf (see profile) 09/14/12

This book covers an interesting part of History, but was bogged down with too much detail. The over use of the pronoun "he" to refer to Cromwell made the prose difficult to follow. The sheer number of... (read more)

 
  "Wolf Hall"by serobertson (see profile) 01/10/12

Immerse yourself in 16th century England. The witty dialogue and different perspective on Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII, are fascinating. It makes today's political machinations seem almost... (read more)

 
  "Wolf Hall"by bookclubber (see profile) 04/14/11

Very interesting study of the life of Cromwell. I found the descriptions of 16th-century life very interesting. The writing style can be confusing until you realize that "he" always refers to Cromwell.... (read more)

 
  "Wolf Hall"by Ceemcb (see profile) 02/25/11

 
  "So-so"by ahitchco (see profile) 10/22/10

I don't understand why this won the Man Booker prize. I'm familiar with the period and many of the characters because of my Ph.D. work in English literature of that time period, but this see... (read more)

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