Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall

[a Novel]

Downloadable Audiobook - 2010
Average Rating:
11
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With no male heir, the infamous Henry VIII wants to annul his 20-year marriage to allow himself to marry Anne Boleyn. When Cardinal Wolsey fails to convince the Catholic Church to follow his king's ideas, he falls out of favor. In steps Thomas Cromwell--a blacksmith's son who has seen his share of hardship. When he is able to give the king his heart's desire, he finds himself in a powerful position. But his new role is a dangerous one with the volatile king.
Publisher: North Kingstown : BBC Audiobooks America, 2010
ISBN: 9780792771166
0792771168
Additional Contributors: Slater, Simon

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p
pdxalexa
Jan 16, 2016

Great story and great reader!

g
goddessbeth
Aug 26, 2015

Wolf Hall is a sweeping historical fiction epic based on the real people and real accounts of the reign of Henry VIII in England. It centers around Thomas Cromwell, a self-made man who is shrewd and sarcastic among a passel of inheriting idiots, religious zealots, and rocks adjacent to hard places. The title is intriguing, but it turns out the reference has no bearing on the plot, so in my head I renamed it "Thomas Cromwell, by Hilary Mantel."

It was easy to like Thomas Cromwell (and Cardinal Wolsey, whose sense of humor cracked me up)- he's shrewd, compassionate, and forward-thinking. It was difficult to like pretty much anyone else in this book- not because they are bad characters, but because there's a larger parade of people as opposed to a deeper development of them. I kept losing the thread of who Cromwell was interacting with, and why they were at all important.

If you're interested in this novel, do yourself a favor and do NOT listen to the audiobook. The narrator has difficult maintaining accents, and because of that I was lost at least 50% of the time as to which character the pronoun 'he' was currently referring to. Also as to whether I was inside Cromwell's head as he was making an observation, or hearing him speak to someone else, or hearing a third-person scene description: all three were scattered throughout the novel. Plus the occasional first-person narrative moments, which also confused me.

That being said, if you like history that brings personality to long-dead movers and shakers of a well-known age of the British Empire, this one is pretty good. The pace can be awkward (sometimes compelling, sometimes plodding) but the Thomas Cromwell as a character is consistently engaging. By the end, knowing what happens with Henry VIII from history classes, I was curious how Cromwell would manage an increasingly petulant king....so I'll likely be picking up the second book to find out.

A long tedious plot about a time in history that is already over-romanticized. One would have to be a real aficionado of the period in English History to wade through the book. It is well written, but oh so much writing.

l
llogar
Jul 31, 2013

Kate Bremer recommendation

Book 1 of 2

d
deasmiiles
Jun 21, 2013

I am not sure what I did but I want to place a hold. Somehow I placed it on my completed list, but really I'd like to borrow this book.
Help...please.

m
mexicanadiense
May 09, 2013

Put simply, the best audiobook I've listened to this year. Believe the (Booker) hype!

m
maipenrai
Mar 11, 2013

**** stars. Wow! This is an amazing retelling of the saga of Henry VIII and his efforts to marry Anne Boleyn. Told from the point of view of Oliver Cromwell who becomes the second most powerful man in England because he has the ear of the king and enables his marriage. In his fight against Henry and the heretics of the new Protestant faiths, Thomas More does not come off a quite the hero that he has been portrayed in previous depictions. The dialogue and descriptions of the period are so adept, that you sometimes wonder if Ms. Mantel is the reincarnation of a person who was actually a "fly on the wall" during all the conversations. Highly recommend

g
GailRoger
Sep 13, 2012

I've been exposed to many literary, cinematic, and televised variations of the events surrounding the first three wives of Henry VIII. (Let's just forget The Tudors ever happened, shall we?) In every version I can recall, Cardinal Wolsey is the corpulent consumer of power and property; Thomas Cromwell is the sinister, scheming agent of the king, and Thomas More is the upright and ethical man who gives his life for his principles.

In Wolf Hall (named, rather mysteriously, for the home of Henry's third queen Jane Seymour who doesn't figure all that heavily in the narrative -- although we know she will later), we're getting the story from Cromwell's viewpoint. As a result, Cardinal Wolsey is portrayed as a rather lovable old man with a gift for acquiring things; Thomas More is rather a nasty piece of work, determined to be martyred; and Cromwell a loving husband, father, and master who views all the goings-on with world-weary resignation.

I quite enjoyed this and part of the credit must go to the entertaining audiobook performance by the very clever Simon Slater. He furnishes a dizzying array of voices which are distinctive enough to help identify the different characters -- particularly useful for people who went by more than one title.

I suspect the sequel, which involves the downfall of Anne Boleyn (not a nice lady in this book), will by necessity show Cromwell in a colder and crueler light. It will be some months before I know, given the huge line-up for library holds.

s
shannonroserpb
Aug 03, 2012

I had a hard time following all the characters and the time line might have been better to have the book

s
shapjul
Jun 05, 2012

This a wonderful book and the audio version is worth it even if you've read it. Wonderfully read. Fully developed characters. The portrayal of court intrigue is fascinating. Cannot wait to read (and listen to) the sequel.

Two things people remark on--the author uses "he" most of the time--which gives you the sense that you are looking over Cromwell's shoulder. I didn't find it terribly confusing, but it does take getting used to. She also writes in present tense, which is unusual, I guess. I loved it.

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