Millicent, I found Wolf Hall a compelling read - the best historical novel I've read for some time (it must have been, since I've part-read so many recently, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever finish another book in my life). However, Ms Mantell's has a habit of leaving the reader to guess who was saying what to whom (although, to be fair, not all the time) but for most of the time I knew when Cromwell was speaking ('he, Cromwell, ...'). One problem is that in Tudor times there were far fewer 'first' names to go round - no Garys or Traceys or Beccas etc. Consequently, it was often difficult to remember which Richard, or Thomas, or Mary, or Jane, she was referring to. She is such a beautiful writer, though, I forgave her unreservedly and completed the book in record time (for me).
I think Wolf Hall would certainly suit history buffs, but also those of us who have only a vague knowledge of English history, but would like to know more, because she enters so authentically into Tudor times; but not the whole sweep of Tudor times, just a tiny segment of them. This isn't a Thomas Cromwell biography as much as it's an account of a political divorce and the forces arraigned pro and con it. Wolsey and Moore were very sharply portrayed, as was Anne Boleyn (I pictured her as a Tudor 'Spice Girl', and couldn't get Victoria Beckham out of my head). In particular, Thomas Cromwell. What a remarkable man to drag himself, literally, out of the gutter to be such an indispensable (that is for the extent of this book) advisor to Henry, who was certainly nobody's fool. Wolf Hall also gives a wonderful insight into the origins of the 'class' war, vestiges of which still abound in our society (at least, the British side of it).
Yes, it's a 'demanding' read, so it's best not to skim it, or fall asleep over the more complex passages, but it has pace, mystery, intrigue (by the bucketful) and wonderful little snippets of domestic Tudor trivia.
Read and enjoy MJ
Last edited by Michael J Hunt; 03-26-2010 at 11:56 AM.