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Wolf Hall

Average Rating 3.5
( 504 )
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(203)

4 Star

(104)

3 Star

(75)

2 Star

(67)

1 Star

(55)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

43 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

Fascinating. Want more.

I almost put this book aside after the first chapter. It was just too confusing. Then I got my aged mind to accept that "he" always refers to Cromwell and it became a page-turner. It is a fascinating look into the minds of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, and various oth...
I almost put this book aside after the first chapter. It was just too confusing. Then I got my aged mind to accept that "he" always refers to Cromwell and it became a page-turner. It is a fascinating look into the minds of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, and various other players in the life of Henry VIII, the birth of the Anglican Church, the Protestant reformation, and the Renaissance in general.

If you read carefully, Wolf Hall also gives a lot of neat little tidbits about life in the sixteenth century; for instance, the convent washed their bed linens once a year.

I hope there will be a sequel that takes the life of Cromwell to its inevitable conclusion.

posted by BillR on April 11, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

54 out of 63 people found this review helpful.

Not worth the effort

I agree with the reviewers who say the writing style is difficult. I'll go one further and say its just atrocious. I consider myself a serious reader, but I'm on my second time trying to read it and just can't get into the story. Its difficult to figure out who the vari...
I agree with the reviewers who say the writing style is difficult. I'll go one further and say its just atrocious. I consider myself a serious reader, but I'm on my second time trying to read it and just can't get into the story. Its difficult to figure out who the various 'he's' are. Half the time I can't figure out who is talking during a conversation. If I wasn't aware of the history and plot line, it would just be impossible. I'm sure there are other books that cover this material that are much better written and much more enjoyable to read. If it was a new plot line, it might be worth the effort. I'm glad I checked it out of the library.

posted by Eadie on May 24, 2010

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    Fascinating. Want more.

    I almost put this book aside after the first chapter. It was just too confusing. Then I got my aged mind to accept that "he" always refers to Cromwell and it became a page-turner. It is a fascinating look into the minds of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, and various other players in the life of Henry VIII, the birth of the Anglican Church, the Protestant reformation, and the Renaissance in general.

    If you read carefully, Wolf Hall also gives a lot of neat little tidbits about life in the sixteenth century; for instance, the convent washed their bed linens once a year.

    I hope there will be a sequel that takes the life of Cromwell to its inevitable conclusion.

    43 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Dull

    The book is full of historical information, and no doubt the author has done a good job on that. But, at least in my opinion, one of the reasons for writing historical fiction rather than a straight up history, is that the author can liven things up a bit and provide a human interest point of view. This book has none of that. It might as well be the straight up history as the writing is tedious to follow and the storyline quite dull. Readers who have a knowledge of Cromwell and an interest in learning more will be satisfied, but the general reader will be asleep long before the 500+ pages are finished.

    23 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Rich in everything a good hsitorical novel should have!

    I have a passion for the historical novels & this is one of the best I have read. Mantel brings the rich and culture altering events of Henry the VIII's rule well into the 21s century - making the characters that defined that area palpable and real without any mundane melodrama. There are no heroes in this story - but flawed people looking to consolidate power however brutally. This novel echoes long after the last page is turned. A must-read for history buffs and those interested in the civilization of the middle ages. Enjoy!

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Mantel's novel takes us inside the mind of Thomas Cromwell, advisor of Henry VII, but the editing makes a fascinating trip needlessly tiring.

    The decision to make it difficult to determine whose thoughts and statements we are reading at any moment was unwise. I assume that Hilary Mantel chose this ill-advised method of writing--not using quotation marks in conventional ways, not clearly attributing statements in situations where more than two people are inter-acting--but her editors should have convinced her that obscurity harmed her effort to make Thomas Cromwell a sympathetic character. Cromwell has suffered from the historians' who have made Ann Boleyn in a romantic figure; Mantel's essentially sympathetic view of him and her characterization of Ann as a coldly calculating power-seeker, is a plausible corrective. Unfortunately, reading this novel is needlessly difficult. The complex tapestry of Tudor England, embroiled in political questions complicated by religious revolution (this is the period of Luther's break with Rome as well as Henry's effort to assure a peaceful succession by securing an annulment from Katherine, the queen he married after her first husband, Henry's older brother died. Katherine was older than Henry, and she bore him a daughter, Mary, but no son; Henry is himself 43 at the time he begins to seek a way to replace Katherine with a fertile younger wife who can bear him a son. The senior archbishop of England, Cardinal Wolsey, is a consummate politician, and he seeks a way to secure support from continental monarchs the Emperor of Spain, and the king of France. For reasons of their own (which Mantel does not go into) it does not suit them to be persuaded to support Henry's petition. Thomas Cromwell is a confidant of Wolsey, a self-made man in an age obsessed with nobility, a man presented as the child of an abusive father who threatens nobles such as Thomas Howard, the Duke of Suffolk, just by being an upstart commoner.

    This book provides a visceral introduction to a world whose views of society are based on a presumption that all men are NOT created equal. In a sense, Cromwell, the central character of this novel, embodies the view that comes to replace it in the following century and half and is given voice by Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence. As an imaginative examination of the collision between these two views, one can only praise Mantel's book. I only wish she had been content with that very difficult task, and had not belabored the reader by an unfortunate stylistic choice that made a hard job harder than it had to be for a thoughtful reader.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Character Overload

    At first I found this book to be a bit difficult to get into. The biggest thing that stood in my way was the abundance of characters...and the amount of characters with the same names. Even with the list of characters at the beginning, it was hard to keep track of who was who. However, once I got into the book a bit, I was hooked. Mantel's interpretation of the events of this time period was quite interesting. I enjoyed the book very much once I got passed the first bit. I definitely recommend this book, and its sequel, but if you don't plan on reading it regularly you may find it difficult to keep up with the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Clever and well-written

    Tells the story of England during the reign of Henry VIII, when he was changing his wife from Katherine to Anne Boleyn, focusing on Thomas Cromwell, the King's councilor and trusted advisor. This book makes Cromwell out to be a much more sympathetic character than he was in "A Man for All Seasons." So, as a result, Thomas More is less the hero than he was portrayed by Paul Scofield in the movie.
    This book is extremely clever and well written, but I did not find it that engrossing. The story is engrossing if you are interested in the history, which I presume is fairly accurate, and you get a real feel for the people and time. It is difficult to keep track of the many people who take part in the events that are described. I frequently had to consult the list of characters at the front of the book.
    The title, Wolf Hall, is more a portent of things to come later than a major part of this story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    Excellent.

    This book was interesting because it is told from the viewpoint of Thomas Cromwell. Through his eyes you witness Henry VIII and the court as well as the political and private lives of these well known historical personages. You get a glimpse of what it must have been like to be continually "on call" to a person in power and sovereign and ultimately to rise or fall based on the whim of the moment. Not a safe place to be! Anyone who likes historical fiction will like this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    A real history lesson

    This is a very well written and informative book. It sent me to Google looking up all the characters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in English history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A little complex

    Mantel's characters aren't clearly drawn in my view. she also has an annoying habit of non-attribution of dialogue, so I had to re-read several passages to establish who was speaking each line.

    That being said, the book definitely enhanced my understanding of the Tudor Courts and their bloody complexity. This is a great book to read at leisure. Don't expect rich recreations of palace interiors or even detailed descriptions of characters' appearance OR personality. But DO expect to learn and to enjoy the process.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wolf Hall

    This is an excellent novel. An award winner for a reason. Despite my previous lack of interest in Cromwell, I could not put this novel down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Yes

    This is exquisite storytelling and superb writing

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Why "Wolf Hall" and who "he"?

    Not exactly sure why this was titled Wolf Hall as it mostly takes place elsewhere. Writing sometimes extraordinary, but writers use of "he" throughout often confusing. Sometimes had to re-read many pages to figure out to whom this pronoun referred. Perhaps writer was trying to achieve a sort of flow of consciousness or some other writerly objective but I just found it annoying and disruptive. Having said that this is a really good book: interesting, informative, entertaining and well worth a reader's time. I look forward to the (reported) second two books of the trilogy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014

    Fun to read

    Great historical fiction. Like Gore Vidal's "Burr" it recasts heroes as villains and villains as heroes. Very enjoyable story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013

    Light to Hornet

    "Hello? Can I at least get a response?" She said shyly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2013

    Keira

    Pads back in dragging a deer

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  • Posted September 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    For someone who loves to read and someone who likes "wordy&

    For someone who loves to read and someone who likes "wordy" books I really enjoyed this. Honestly, it was well worth the struggle it took sometimes to get to the end. A must read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    A Great Read

    If you have an interest in Engiish history this should be right down your alley. Once I picked it up it was off to the races. It is a novel but it is an enticing read and I am sure reasnablly close to the history as it was lived at the time. Some of the characters that have been portrayed as highly principled turn out to be human as in having serious flaws. I really enjoyed to book and am reading the second book in the trilogy now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2013

    Nyla

    She sits down looking around.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2013

    Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantel

    4 Stars

    <b>Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantel</b>
    <br />
    <br />
    <b> 4 Stars</b>
    <br />
    <br />
    Wolf Hall is a recount of a few formative Tudor years during the reign of Henry VIII. These are the years leading up to major changes in England. Henry wants what Heny wants and he gets it regardless of what person, what religion, or what tradition may be in the way. It is not a typical recount as it is told throught the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. He is a notable figure of the time. The book brings to light a whole different perspective of Mr. Cromwell and his part in events.<br />
    <br />
    This is a large book that took me most of the month to finish. The beginning slowed me down but then it picked up pace about a third of the way through. I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the perspective that it brought. I enjoyed being back in my beloved Tudor England like it was fresh and new to me. <br />
    <br />
    I will admit the pronoun usage was a stumbling block at first. I had to stop and think sometimes even when I knew who &quot;he&quot; was referring to. I'm not sure of the reasoning whether it was a creative usage or an attempt to deal with the vast amount of players named Thomas in the book. <br />
    <br />
    All in all I was glad I finally tackled it and will continue to read the triology. When remains to be seen but someday. I would recommend it to people who love history and love books that are not what you expect them to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Palace intrigue, politics, love, and religion. What's not to like?

    As a history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed and insightful descriptions of the issues, complexities, and people of the time, even if novelized. The writing style is unique, which sometimes requires re-reading of a paragraph to be sure 'he" is. Not only does it provide insight into the past, many times it could be a description of recent or current political events as participants try to parse the meaning of every phrase, where partisanship runs rampant, and egos are easily bruised.

    Looking forward to reading more of her work.

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