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Wolf Hall: A Novel (Hardcover)

Product Description
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power

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. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, 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?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

Some of these things are true and some of them are lies. But they are all good stories, September 9, 2009
By S. Matthews "Sean Matthews" (Mainz, Germany)

This is the perfect beach read for people who do not like beaches, since it will remove you efficiently and absolutely from any beach upon which you are unfortunate enough to find yourself washed up. Mantel's reconstruction of Tudor England: how things looked, how they felt, how they tasted, how both the secular and the vicious religious politics functioned (the latter of which, together with it's embodiment, Thomas More, she despises and loaths), is completely absorbing.

It must be said, however, that Wolf Hall is not _quite_ a convincing reconstruction of all of Tudor England. Mantel is clearly in love with her version of Thomas Cromwell, who is just a bit too good to be true: a thinking woman's daydream. I doubt that any man - gay or straight - could have invented him.

It will be interesting to see how the story is carried forward to its grisly end, in the promised sequel. I will be first in line for a copy.

P.S., The publisher's blurb for the american edition, which you can see on it's amazon page, is crass, ludicrous, and completely misleading (though I don't imagine that Hilary Mantel finds it so funny).