Wednesday, 4 November 2009

My Thoughts: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

It has been a manic couple of weeks since the read-a-thon finished, despite having a school holiday last week I was working, seeing friends or partying all week. Going back to work this week has meant that tons of stuff suddenly had to be done. Our school is sitting the pupils early for their English Language exam, we have to mark all their coursework by this Friday - a couple are still missing pieces, and then they have their exams next week! I'm way more stressed than the kids are. Thats without all the normal school stuff and extra work I have in my new role.
So...rather than picking a nice easy book to read I picked up Wolf Hall, the recent Booker winner.

The novel is 650 pages long, but in hardback so bloody heavy. Its starts with Cromwell's childhood, growing up beaten by an alcoholic father till the age of 15 when he runs away. The book then chronicles his gradual rise in the British monarchy till he became the Henry's right-hand man.

I loved parts of this. Cromwell's relationship with his family, his dealings with Mary Boyelen, all the affairs and his conversations with his son and nephew. It was also a very readable novel. However I felt that I missed out on tons of stuff as I knew nothing of the history of this time, except recognising the names. The author has a huge cast of charcaters and the novel spans 35 years. I was often lost as to which Henry or Mary they were discussing. Segments frequently started with 'he...' and it wasn't until a page later that I could work out who they were talking about.

I'm sending this out on a bookring to 5 other people, it will probably return to me next summertime. I'm thinking that I may do a bit of reading on the period and then try and tackle this again next year when I'm more clued up.


C.B. James said...

I've been following this book based on it's title and the Booker Prize. But somehow this is the first post I've read about it that describes the plot. I'll embarrass myself and admit that I thought it had something to do with werewolves. ;-)

Vivienne said...

I was supposed to win this ages ago and I never got it. I might just borrow it from the library as it is soo big.

katrina said...

I had to read it as at bookcrossing a group of us are reading the sort list, I was expecting a gothic novel from the title, not a historical novel!

Walter said...

I'm loving it, but I agree with you - dialogue too frequently begins with "he" and I have no idea who's talking.