After chatting with David about the book reviewed below, I thought, “Wow, this book sounds terrific–how could everybody in the MA community learn about it?” And then I recalled that, hey, we have a perfect place to publish such a thing–right here! With that, please take a look at guest writer David LeCount’s excellent review for Wolf Hall and if you want to get in on a discussion, leave a comment!
Thoughts about Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Winner of the Man Booker Prize for 2009
For one who is wholly ignorant of 16th century European history, this book was a wonderful introduction. It made me want to find out more about the people driving the plot. For one who loves to read, it was a rare thrill to race through 500-plus pages, not wanting once to put the book down.
The story is about Thomas Cromwell, born in a poor family, and his rise to power in the court of Henry VIII in England. Cromwell is the hero–the story is told from his point of view. Thomas More is the self-righteous and murderous villain (an uncommon description of his personality), and Henry and his young mistress Anne Bolyn are the greedy and slightly off-balance players that Cromwell has to appease.
The author writes in the third person singular–“He did this, he thought that…” so that one has the uncanny feeling of watching a movie, filmed by someone following Cromwell with a camera. The images are that vivid. The characters are real and unpredictable. The descriptions of heretic burnings and beheadings (not to mention drawing and quartering, death by plague) are enough to make you put your fork down.
It’s a long read, but you won’t be disappointed.