Friday, December 9, 2016

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall
Title: Wolf Hall
Author: Hilary Mantel
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 653
Genre:Historical / Political / Royals / Fiction
How I Found It: It's been around and popular for a while.
Date Completed: 11/15/16

Summary: Thomas Cromwell played a huge role in shaping English history as we know it. He was an advisor to Henry VIII at the time when he was seeking a way out of his first marriage. Mantel's book examines the famous historical events from Cromwell's perspective.

What I Thought: Y'all, I know people love this book. People love it. People also love the TV show based on it. it awful to say I found it terribly dull?

That Times quote on the cover seriously made me laugh. This book was far from gripping - at least for me.

I've long been interested in the Tudor era. Somewhere in my early teenage years I taped a documentary on the wives of Henry VIII off PBS and I watched it multiple times. It was six hours long and I wore that VHS tape down. I prided myself on my knowledge of the family and what happened to them. To the point that I correct the actress playing Elizabeth I at the Renaissance Fair. Yeah...I was that obnoxious. Thankfully, I've matured at least a little. A very little.

All that to say, I know this story inside and out. I've learned it in history classes and through my own readings and entertainment choices. Therefore, it did not feel suspenseful or gripping to me. It felt tired. This is no fault of Mantel's, I realize. She's trying to a new angle, approaching the story from Cromwell's perspective rather than Henry's or Anne's or Catherine's. 

But I didn't like this perspective. I found Cromwell tiresome and manipulative. I guess that's part of the point, but it irritated me. The women seemed more like props than complex characters in their own right (a fault I can kind of understand given that was really their role in reality). 

Maybe I'm just tired of this story. Maybe this book isn't as great as everyone seems to think. Either way, and likely a combination of the two, it wasn't for me. I don't get it. If you don't know the story, I'd still recommend starting elsewhere rather than this book. 

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Will I Re-Read: No

A Reduced Review: This fictional look at Thomas Cromwell has been very popular, but I just couldn't find its appeal. 


  1. It was interesting to read your thoughts on this book. I read Mantel's short story collection, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, and loved it, and I picked up this book used but I haven't started it yet. Her short stories were very different--you might enjoy them.

    1. I should give them a try, then. I wanted to like this one so badly. I'm almost always willing to give an author a second shot, especially if its a very different type of work.