Wolf Hall

Oh those crazy Tudors! Wolf Hall by British author Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. It covers some of the same ground as some of the novels of Philippa Gregory, but from a different perspective and in a much different way.

The action in Wolf Hall spans the years of the reign of Henry VIII from the end of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon through his marriage to Anne Boleyn. It is told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a commoner who rose to become an influential and respected adviser to the King. The novel also contains flashbacks to Cromwell’s earlier life, and we learn how his unlikely ascendancy occurred.

The Henry VIII of this novel is not the selfish and brutal man of Philippa Gregory’s books. He is much more human and multi-dimensional. And Thomas Cromwell is much more complex than the actual history would indicate. Mantel has done much research, but also takes considerable license in fleshing out these famous characters. It does make for very good reading.

The Wolf Hall of the title refers to the estate of the Seymour family. While the Seymours are not major players in this novel, we do know that shortly after the death by beheading of Anne Boleyn, Henry married Jane Seymour.

This is an intriguing and interesting book. It is very long, and not so easy reading. But I recommend it highly if only, as I did, to get the comment from the librarian-“you finished it?”


Published in hardcover-Henry Holt & Co.-2009
Softcover edition-Picador-2010

Wolf Hall: A Novel


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