Customer Reviews


47 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (9)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just remember to pace yourself....
Author Hilary Mantel gives the reader a new take on that oft told tale of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn by showing it through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who despite humble beginnings was able to raise himself very high while aiding Henry VIII to rid himself of Katherine of Aragon in "The King's Great Matter", as well as his involvement in the Reformation and destruction of...
Published on Oct. 25 2009 by Misfit

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good English History but quite deep
The story is quite deep for me, and so many characters.
I love history but I guess I need something a little lighter.
Published 4 months ago by DECampbell


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just remember to pace yourself...., Oct. 25 2009
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Wolf Hall: A Novel (Hardcover)
Author Hilary Mantel gives the reader a new take on that oft told tale of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn by showing it through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who despite humble beginnings was able to raise himself very high while aiding Henry VIII to rid himself of Katherine of Aragon in "The King's Great Matter", as well as his involvement in the Reformation and destruction of the monasteries and abbeys (to his own great gain). I think most of us have read enough about Henry and his six wives and know the basics, as well as enough reviewers have come before me so I don't need to rehash it all again. I'm just here to give my two cents on the book.

While I did enjoy a fresh take on this period, seeing it through the eyes of Cromwell, as well as seeing him interact with his wife, children and other family members, I did find the present tense very distracting and I had a difficult time getting started. Frankly, I picked up (and finished) four different books in between periods working on this one - although one covering the same period helped me a great deal as it served as a *refresher course* on who and what Cromwell was.

I found I couldn't read it during the work week at the end of the day when my brain was tired as well as on weekends when it was getting too close to bedtime - I put it down and read something lighter. That said, by the time I hit page 150 or so I was enjoying it a great deal and eventually I wasn't bothered the present tense at all, nor the excessive use of referring to Cromwell as "he" (it will drive you nuts at first).

I've seen this book described as a "rich meaty stew" and that's pretty much how I approached it, I took it in small bites over several weeks instead of gorging myself all at once and getting heartburn (reader burnout). Or you can look at it like you're climbing a mountain - you have to stop to rest and acclimate yourself, as well as slowing down to savor the shifting scenery as it changes from the alpine meadows and flowers to the starker views of the alpine tundra above the tree line. And wow towards the end when I reached the summit and saw the beauty of it all below me.

I loved the characterizations of the Boleyns, especially Anne, Mary and George (and oooh, his witchy wife Jane Rochford), anytime they were in a room things really moved along. I really enjoyed Cromwell's dry wit and I'll share some of my favorites here,

Cromwell's family asking him about Anne Boleyn,

"They say she is graceful. Dances well."
"We did not dance."
Mercy says, "But what do you think? A friend to the gospel?"
He shrugs. "We did not pray."
"Are her teeth good?"
"For God's sake woman: when she sinks them into me, I'll let you know."

Mary Boleyn,

"Anne has very long legs. By the time he comes to her secret part he will be bankrupt. The French wars will be cheap, in comparison."

Discussing Anne's virtue (or lack of) with Wyatt,

"...Besides, the king is no judge of maidenheads. He admits as much. With Katherine, it took him twenty years to puzzle out his brother had been there before him."

Final thoughts - if you're a first time novice reader on this period this is not the book for you - you need to come into this knowing who is who and who did what to whom. If it's been a few years and you're feeling rusty, find something else first and give yourself a refresher course. Lastly, do not be afraid to put the book down and take a breather and pick it up again later. If it isn't the book for you don't be afraid to just stop, prestigious literary award or not. Not every book is going to be for every person and life is too short. 4/5 stars.

Thanks to Henry Holt and Company for my copy of this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wolf Hall: A Passport back in Time, June 8 2013
By 
Seymour Hamilton (Chelsea, Quebec, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is a passport taking you 500 years into the past to follow the career of Thomas Cromwell, son of a common smith, who we meet first as a child fleeing his abusive father. Mantel skips over the years when Cromwell is by turns soldier, traveller, merchant and student, during which he learns courage, cunning, half a dozen languages including Latin and Greek, and a shrewd grasp of the law -- all of which lead to his becoming right hand man to Cardinal Wolsey, who is the most powerful man in England, excepting only Henry, who he serves devotedly.

Henry VIII is secure on his throne, but he lacks a male heir. His first wife, Katherine of Aragon, has produced a daughter, Mary, but Henry needs a son. Henry turns to Wolsey to get him a divorce.

Mantel takes us into the family feuds, the political intrigues, the international machinations and the theological debates of the Reformation that all tangle together as Cromwell serves Wolsey, and Wolsey serves the king. Henry needs to overturn the Pope's ruling that allowed him to marry his brother's widow Katherine, so that he can put her aside and marry Ann Boleyn with whom Henry has fallen in love. Wolsey fails, is disgraced and dies, but Cromwell goes on to engineer the events that lead to Henry's marriage to Ann, the birth of their daughter who will be Elizabeth I, and the establishment of the Church of England headed by Henry.

In Mantel's account, Cromwell is a church-going agnostic, pragmatically aware of the power of faith in the life and politics of his time. He is a political fixer, strategist and designer of laws. He is essentially the first English civil servant: neither a churchman nor a member of the nobility. If you have seen Cromwell only as the man who was responsible for the death of Sir (or Saint, if you prefer) Thomas More, be prepared to reconsider or at least modify your views, because Mantel achieves the supreme goal of historic fiction: she so immerses you in the spirit of the time that you see from the perspectives of the historical figures she portrays and understand Thomas' from his point of view. This is sharply different from those who offer only a well-researched romp through history with occasional cameo appearances by well-known names, dressed for Hollywood, and talking modern English with an occasional "forsooth" tossed in for effect. Mantel's characters were real people who she brings back to life so vividly, that even when we know the outcome in advance, we share Cromwell's anxiety at each moment when his fate, as well as that of his king and country, hang between plan and outcome.

Mantel bends novelistic convention by referring to Cromwell as "he" while giving us his point of view as a first-person observer and participant. It took a little while for me to get used to the technique, but soon I was experiencing the unfolding present as if Cromwell were writing the story modestly himself. This stylistic trick lets us see the details of life in the time of the Tudors through contemporary eyes, rather than the fall-back position of many historical novelists who laboriously tell us how different then was from now.

Wolf Hall is a psychodrama, not an action thriller. Murders, executions, births, wars and assassinations take place off stage. We experience them through Cromwell's consciousness and feel his reactions. The historic events are important to him, of course, but so are his glimpse of Mary Boleyn's green stockings, or his tenderness towards the child Jane Seymour, who we know and he doesn't, will be Henry's third wife -- and the only one of the six to die naturally.

The book ends well before the death of Ann Boleyn, leaving me wanting 650 pages more in Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My second time through, Jan. 6 2011
By 
David Griffiths (New Westminster, BC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wolf Hall: A Novel (Hardcover)
I originally borrowed this from the library, as a new book with a 2-week loan period (no renewals). I got to page 500-and-something before I had to relinquish it back to the long line of waiting cheapskates.

So I finally broke down and bought it, and realized that I needed to start from the beginning.

And I am glad I did.

I've read the negative reviews - too hard to read, the story wanders, sometimes you can't tell who's talking. Yes, it's a challenging read. But most worthwhile pursuits are difficult; if we could all win at Wimbledon, it wouldn't be much of an accomplishment.

Typically, the greater the effort, the greater the reward, and Wolf Hall is no exception. I will say that, as someone born in the 60's, who reads, on average, a book or more a week, this is by far the best (fiction) book I've ever read. Ever.

And it's not because I am fascinated by this period of English history - I have no interest in King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, or Cardinal Wolsey. I watched a couple of episodes of the first season of the Tudors before my attention wandered.

It's the semi-stream-of-consciousness writing, elaborately and perfectly fleshed out with details. Each character is fully inhabited and perfectly expressed by the author. As I read Wolf Hall, I often stopped and pondered what I had just read in disbelief. How could someone could be so imaginative and creative as to write it, and express it in such an elegant and simple way?

Read it slowly, and carefully, and it may become the best book you've ever read as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 8 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Kindle Edition)
VERY GOOD. TOLD ME MORE ABOUT CROMWELL THAN I K NEW
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars This was a slog., April 22 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Kindle Edition)
I did not enjoy this book. I felt like I was plodding through the story and was forcing myself to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Wolf Hall, March 27 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
Loved it. Thomas Cromwell is an exceptional and interesting person and we see the events of Henry VIII times through Cromwell's experiences - a refreshing change. Character development was excellent. The turbulent times, depth of intrigue and understanding of the author of these times, makes for mind catching and exciting reading
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Good English History but quite deep, Feb. 27 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
The story is quite deep for me, and so many characters.
I love history but I guess I need something a little lighter.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fabulous, Feb. 17 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
This is one off the best (if not the best) historical fiction I've ever read. The research was flawless and the writing superb. The Tudor era is a fascinating one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, June 1 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
This was recommended to me, I read it , ordered the sequel, ordered the sequel to Wolf Hall, now waiting for the sequel to Bring up the Bodies. Heartily recommend it to all who enjoy Tudor times history and a great read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, Jan. 26 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wolf Hall (Kindle Edition)
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gives great insight into the politics and treachery of the reign of Henry VIII. A must read for those who enjoy books set in England in this era.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Paperback - Sept. 16 2009)
CDN$ 24.99 CDN$ 15.67
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews