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Thread: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    I have finally gotten back to reading "Wolf hall" as other things got in the way at my first attempt.

    Still I am enjoying Hillary?s use of language so much and her sense of humour. She keeps a high standard and is able to keep to that level most of the time. I have only come across a few bits which was a bit confusing to read.

    Last night I read these few lines. Its Thomas Cromwell talking to Anne Boleyn about how to boil a man alive as punishment.

    " Anne?s face wears no expression at all. Even a man as literate as he can find nothing there to read. "How will they do it?"

    Guess he doesn?t think much of her.

    To me the book is filled with these small creative descriptions of the people and their relations, and you gotta smile each time they appear.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Wolf Hall was heavily marketed upon its release here, but never quite seemed to catch on. Not sure how to interpret that.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    The quotations given in this thread made me go back and start rereading Wolf Hall. I found it fascinating, compelling, touching -- but fatiguing to read. It seemed limited in some way i couldn't define but I realised I was (irrationally) reading it against an unrelated text, Webster's Duchess of Malfi and I kept longing for that strangeness of metaphor found in the older texts. What is unfeigned and uncontrived. This is a problem I often struggle with in reading historical fiction, the longing to find again the actual living texts of another age, mysterious and withholding themselves.

    What I liked too about Wolf Hall -- the sustained metaphors to do with the wool trade in England, the source of prosperity, the ubiquity of that trade and craft. That was convincing, in the same way that writers dwell on drought in contemporary southern African fiction, something that is so obvious as to go unmentioned in itself but there in all the detailed descriptions of daily life and work. As opposed to George Packer in the New Yorker talking about Lagos as the chaotic teeming equivalent of Dickens' London, but not mentioning the imperialist drive that focused Victorian London.

    And I kept going back to the quotation from Vitruvius De Architectura on the tragic, the comic, the satiric. Not sure if I caught the sugnificance.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Ok, I tried my damndest to read this one, but I just couldn't understand the characters and what their motives were, so the plot was difficult to decipher. I want to try again, but want to go into it with a better knowledge of the people and time period in the book. Can anyone suggest any other books to read beforehand to get a better jist of that part of the Tudor era? Thanks.

  5. #25

    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott89119 View Post
    Ok, I tried my damndest to read this one, but I just couldn't understand the characters and what their motives were, so the plot was difficult to decipher.
    Have you considered that it might not be you? I find Wolf Hall irredeemably tedious, and to attempt even a few pages fills me with inexplicable lassitude. There are far better ways to spend your time.

    BLOG

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott89119 View Post
    Ok, I tried my damndest to read this one, but I just couldn't understand the characters and what their motives were, so the plot was difficult to decipher. I want to try again, but want to go into it with a better knowledge of the people and time period in the book. Can anyone suggest any other books to read beforehand to get a better jist of that part of the Tudor era? Thanks.
    Scott, I spent a lot of time studying the family trees and the cast list at the front of the book but they weren't enough, I always have to keep my own cast list of novels and the one I compiled for Wolf Hall ran to 6 sides of A4. I couldn't have coped with the book without these aide memoires because I was constantly glancing down at my sheets to remind myself of who each character was. I would advise this for any book with many characters. I know that when I've invested the time in keeping cast lists and also notes (which I also write on every book I read, to help remember details to mention in the review) I read much more slowly and gain so much more from books.

    Before I read the book I didn't actually know very much about Tudor history apart from the causes for Henry's wish to be granted a divorce by the Catholic church (because of his desire to bed Anne B, which he couldn't do without marrying her because unlike her sister Mary, she held out) and the repercussions of the refusal of Rome to sanction the divorce: the break with the Catholic church, the schism that caused between Protestants and Catholics, the Reformation, the refusal of people like Thomas More to condone the new marriage (leading to his imprisonment and execution), Cromwell's role as Henry V111's fixer, etc. I learnt so much from the book because I tend to absorb facts more when they're presented as real lives rather than dry accounts in history books. Obviously Mantel fictionalised the details but most of the facts remain faithful to history (unlike the TV series The Tudors which has added all sorts of egregious untruths to sex up the programme.)

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    A great piece of news for those of us who have enjoyed Hilary Mantel's excellent historical novel Wolf Hall: she's planning not one sequel, but two, turning her sprawling Tudor-era narrative into a trilogy. The second installment in the series, provisionally titled Bring Up the Bodies, will focus on the downfall of Anne Boleyn and the people who surround her. The third part will then retrace the arc of the first book, and return us to Cromwell.

    The second installment is planned to be released in the UK in Spring 2012, so make sure you pre-order your copy soon, .

  8. #28
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    United Kingdom Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    ^^Bring Up the Bodies will be published in the US on May 22nd. Pre-order at will.


  9. #29
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    I'm so looking forward to this.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    A nicely-written and positive review of Mantel's latest by James Wood.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    I reviewed Bring Up The Bodies over in the general review thread (it's out in Canada a few weeks earlier than in the US), and it's a worthy followup. Possibly better, though it's been a while since I read Wolf Hall, so I couldn't firmly commit either way (I'd meant to reread it before the sequel came out, but didn't have time). It's definitely more tightly structured.

    Anyway, if you liked the first one, the second shouldn't disappoint.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Yeah, I have so much stuff to read at the moment, I think I'm gonna wait for the paperback.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    There's a pretty good book giving a similar 'balanced' account of Cromwell by Antonia Fraser.
    "Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard"
    Myth of Sysyphus ~ Albert Camus

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Lady Antonia's book is a non-fiction book, whereas Mantel's Wolf Hall is a novel.

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Yes, of course... but you see Stiffy I was looking at both of them only days apart by pure chance... and just made the connection. Cromwell in the UK is still seen as a bit of an oppressive bore. Both Mantel and Fraser seem to be offering contrary views of that national myth. You see we admire Cromwell for his discipline and military prowess, but just don't warm to him for a good night out on the town and a few pints of beer!

    These authors, one an historian and the other a historical fiction writer, appear to be interested in disputing or even dislodging that popular conception of the man.

    Anyway, I was probably just thinking out loud through my fingers on this keyboard...
    Last edited by Hamlet; 19-Dec-2012 at 18:06.
    "Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard"
    Myth of Sysyphus ~ Albert Camus

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    You're confusing 2 different Cromwells, Hamlet. Hilary Mantel's novels are about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister; Antonia Fraser's biography is about Oliver Cromwell, Charles I's chief beheader.

    (Something I didn't know, though, was that Oliver Cromwell was the great-great-grandson of Thomas Cromwell's sister, Katherine - well, according to Wikipedia, anyway).
    Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad. - George Bernard Shaw

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    I've definitely confused these.

    I don't know Mantel, so I'd skimmed a few of the reviews on Amazon with respect to the subject of her books, and duly noted it was indeed Thomas Cromwell, and then days later, I was reading the jacket and inside preface to Fraser's book... and somehow, got them confused. But that's even better news really, as I would like to read an account of Thomas Cromwell, even if it's in fiction, he always seems to crop up in the fringes of books I've read to date, on More, Henry VIII et al... but never as the sole subject.

    Interesting reference from Wiki, sounds about right doesn't it?

    I noted the hefty Fraser book many years ago and for some reason it seemed just too dense at the time to hold my attention....I was after a general introductory book on Olly Cromwell!

    I don't think I'd get away with addressing him as "Olly" in 1642?
    Last edited by Hamlet; 24-Dec-2012 at 21:54.
    "Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard"
    Myth of Sysyphus ~ Albert Camus

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall

    Just finished Bring Up the Bodies. Just as great as Wolf Hall, albeit much shorter. Anne Boleyn's last days were delineated superbly.

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