Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Book review

Title: Wolf Hall

Series: Thomas Cromwell #1

Author: Hilary Mantel

Genre/Themes: Historical Fiction, Henry VIII, Booker Prize Winner, Thomas Cromwell, Power Dynamics, Church and State, Religion

Blurb from Goodreads

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope and most of Europe opposes him.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition.

But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

My Review

I found this an awful drudgery.

It bored me so much that I even downloaded the audiobook format just so I could get through it. I’m not an audiobook fan at all but Simon Slater, the narrator in this instance, was quite good; the different voices he used for the various characters helped me somewhat…

Although for me listening is too passive a way of reading and again I ended up dumping the audiobook (like I’ve done on every single occasion I’ve attempted to listen to an audiobook) in favour of my physical paperback; therefore I ended up reading the majority of the book rather than listening.

Sadly the characters didn’t really come alive for me. I really didn’t enjoy the third person perspective I think. And wow did this book overuse the ‘he‘ pronoun!!!!!

Also I think a knowledge of this time period is pretty much expected when you read this book because it does very little to actually introduce characters in a traditional manner, plus the plot is flimsy at best! And my knowledge of all things Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and co. comes from binge watching The Tudors tv series last year…so EXCEPTIONALLY SHADY ….especially seeing as I only watched that show for Henry Cavill and really only paid attention when he was on screen…… BUT I DIGRESS!!!

This just was not for me.

Yet another Booker prize winner that has me baffled by the extent of its plaudits and I shan’t be picking up the sequel. I do wonder what the TV adaptation is like though as I can easily envision it being interesting. But no doubt it’s too violent for my personal taste.

My Socials

3 thoughts on “Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – Book review

  1. Sorry you didn’t like this book. Still worth watching the TV adaptation. It’s beautiful — the music, the way it’s lit and composed, like a Northern Renaissance painting come to life. Also, Mark Rylance as Cromwell is just amazing. He can say so much with not a word, just his face.


    1. I just couldn’t get to grips with it at all sadly. I’m so disappointed to not like it too because I was excited to read the whole series… But wasn’t to be. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the tv series because I can definitely see how well it would translate to screen and I think I would be able to connect with it more


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