‘So now get up.’
This wasn’t a novel, this was a ambitious biography about every breath Thomas Cromwell took, every move he made. Yes, that makes Hilary Mantel extremely devoted and A+ for her research (how much of it was research and how much fiction?) but it doesn’t make a readable book.
This story is of the rags to riches kind. He seems to have a sixth sense for where he needs to be, who he needs to talk to and what decision to support. That’s impressive. After another and another success story it starts to get a bit boring. Yes, he’s the right time right place right connection man. Singlehandedly keeping the kingdom in one piece. Fine.
The kingdom is the one of Henry VIII, not the greatest ruler, too busy with trying to get rid of one woman (Katherine of Arragon) and marry another (Anne Boleyn). His kingdom is ruled by advisors and councils and slowly by Thomas Cromwell. If I hadn’t been browbeaten by musings over paints and favourite meals, I might have had energy left to be impressed.
Now it only gave me a bitter determination to finish this book and forever be done with it. I don’t know what I missed what made others rave about Wolf Hall, but I was glad to leave it behind.
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel, Fourth Estate 2009