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Book of the Month – December 2010

December 2010’s Book of the Month is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel:-

Wolf Hall by Hilary MantelThis is a really tough review for me to write because although Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, I just couldn’t get into it.

Now, I’m a complete bookworm and love everything from thrillers to Jane Austen, from Jodi Picoult to Charles Dickens, from Stephenie Meyer to Tolkien, so I’ve got rather varied taste, but Wolf Hall just didn’t do it for me. You’d think as a bookworm and Tudor history fanatic that a novel based in Tudor England, with Thomas Cromwell as the protagonist, would be just the book for me and that I’d be raving about it and shouting its praise from the roof tops, but I’m not. It’s not that I hated it, I didn’t even dislike it, I just didn’t fall in love with it and I had to keep pushing myself to read it when normally I use any excuse to sit and read. Usually, my husband will find me in a corner with a book when I’m supposed to be doing something else. You know, you disappear off to the loo and never come back! However, I really had to force myself to read Wolf Hall.

It’s hard to know why it didn’t grab me. I liked the way that the story was told from Cromwell’s point of view and that you saw the events and other characters through his eyes, and therefore with his bias, and I enjoyed empathising with Cromwell for once and seeing a rather nasty side to Thomas More, but I “liked” that, I didn’t “love” it. I commend Hilary Mantel for her meticulous research and for bringing Cromwell’s story to the public, but that wasn’t enough to make me fall in love with her novel. For me, it didn’t bring the Tudor period to life like the novels of C J Sansom or Robert Parry’s “Virgin and the Crab”, I couldn’t see and smell Tudor England when I read Mantel’s words, I wasn’t drawn into the book and the lives of the characters, I was more of a voyeur than a participant. Does that make sense?

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