Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

You all know the story. Henry VIII, king of England in the early 1500s, is desperate for a male heir and not adverse to swapping one wife for another it that is what it takes. Henry wants to annul his 20-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope, many of Henry's advisors and Catholic Europe do not take kindly to this proposal.

Much has been written about the characters in this real life drama - Henry, the volatile and determined monarch, Catherine the faithful and steadfast Queen, Anne the young and hopeful lady-in-waiting, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas Moore, who opposed Henry outright and lost his head because of his opposition.

In Wolf Hall, however, Hilary Mantel chooses to focus on Thomas Cromwell - the wily and consummate politician. Cromwell is a man lowly born, but with guile and daring, manages to become Henry's confidante - suceeds in giving Henry all that he wants - with momentous consequences.

This historical novel is full of detail and deep in nuance and societal foibles. But perservere. The writing is superb and the story complex and satisfying. Meg



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