07 April 2010

Wolf Hall

This is a huge story about power. Set in England in the 1520s, it explores the events around Henry VIII's desire to annul his 20-year marriage so he can marry Anne Boleyn and try to create a male heir.

If you have power, it seems you can do anything you want for whatever reason and then rationalise, justify and change the rules to make your action 'legitimate'. I'm uneasy, yet fascinated, by this attitude. Henry's actions to annul (a totally ridiculous concept in itself) resulted in the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church - just so he could legitimise his relationship with Anne (who he later had beheaded when she didn't produce a male heir). What an appalling abuse of power. 

I was fortunate to hear Hilary Mantel speak at a writers' festival some years ago. She is a brilliant storyteller and the rhythm of her language makes this story sing. It takes a while to get into and it is challenging to keep track of the characters but, oh so worth it. A truly wonderful novel.


  1. And no doubt you noticed the references to quilted jackets? Wolf Hall was my summer holiday reading, thoroughly enjoyed, along with the third series of The Tudors on DVD (lots of quilted garments there too). I really liked the way Hilary Mantel married lots of detail about everyday life with the power politics of the day. A lovely big read.


  2. Having read so much about this period in history (another little obsession of mine!) I loved the details about Cromwell and seeing the destruction from his perspective. I'm going back for a second visit to Wolf Hall to make sure I sucked all the juice out!
    And the Tudors - the only thing wrong with this TV series is that they aren't going to keep it going through Mary and Elizabeth!! Don't stop.... at least it's on DVD :)


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