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3.7 out of 5 stars
Wolf Hall
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2011
OK. This may not be fair, as I haven't finished the book. But I find the narrative point of view adopted by the author to be hideously contrived in a way that leaves the reader (and apparently the Man Booker Prize Committee) struggling to separate the use of "he" when it is an antecedent for another character, or for when it simply represents Cromwell himself. Maybe there will come a point (as the other reviewer suggested here) where I won't care about or will actually enjoy this twist of narrative point of view, but right now, it strikes me as a narrative smoke and mirrors meant to distract you from the fact that this isn't a prize-worthy book.

The fact that the book is written in the present tense doesn't bother me at all, and in fact is what drew me into the the first chapter. But the incessant use of "he" representing Cromwell without an antecedent, especially when there are plenty of other male characters for which that pronoun has use, seems affected, like the author sat down and asked herself, "OK, what can I do differently with the usual hideous historical fiction fare?" and answered--"Aha, I can screw with the point of view!"
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
Short listed for Man Booker?? No longer a credible stamp of approval for me.

This novel, while weighty (650 pages),and promising, according to the cover notes and the breathless endorsement of a few, has not much to recommend it beyond the reiteration of familiar historical data.

The obfuscating practice of shifting tense annoys, the inconsistent narrative point of view is not clever, nor is it evocative of period vernacular. It's just simply irritating. For example, consider these egregious pronoun agreement errors:
"They agree the terms and shake hands on it. It takes their mind off the urgent problem, which is the rats, and the cold(p.63)
Not only do we find lack of accurate grammatical agreement in this prose, but frequently the missing logical antecedent of the ubiquitous 'he' forces readers to constantly interrupt narrative flow and reread in order to discern meaning.

The book attempts perhaps to capitalize on public thirst for more Tudor bloodshed. Nevertheless, readers will find themselves in Cromwell's world and his astute political mind which Mantel has brilliantly captured.

If you have an addiction to history and are willing to sacrifice fluency for interest and drama, go ahead, but you can't say you weren't forewarned. Just where was the editor on this one?
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