Book Review: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

As a historical fiction lover, and a huge fan of Philippa Gregory who has written several books about Tudor England, I was sure I would find nothing new in this book set in the same time and with the same story. This is my first book by the author and my expectations were not too high even if she is a Booker prize winner.

‘Wolf Hall’ is another version of one of the most remembered Kings of England, Henry VIII told from the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, the son of a butcher who escapes his abusive father as a young teenager. He gets on a ship out of England and travels around Europe until he returns a grown man filled with knowledge and experience. Cromwell starts off as a clerk for the Cardinal Wolsey and when the Cardinal is unable to give King Henry VIII what he so desperately wants which is to help him put his wife Queen Katherine aside and marry Anne Boleyn, he falls in his favor and is relieved of his duties. This is where the rise of Thomas Cromwell begins until he becomes the right hand man to the King of England. Cromwell details the happenings at court, the politics, the scheming and plots of men and women of high and low repute.

This was a pleasant surprise. Having read several versions of this story, it was nice to see the Tudor court from the eyes of a man such as Cromwell. Hilary Mantel is an exquisite writer and the humor that is laced throughout the entire story is magnificently done. Now I can understand why a while ago, someone asked me how it was possible to say I love historical fiction yet, I have not read any book by this author. Every part of the story was vivid and believable and relatable. I really loved the way the author portrayed Cromwell’s character in this story and also other characters like Anne Boleyn and Queen Katherine. Philippa Gregory has a big contender for my heart now. I will be reading the next book in this series titled ‘Bring Up The Bodies’ which won the 2012 Booker Prize. Watch out for that review soon.

I highly recommend.

Rating: 5 Stars

Published: August 31st 2010 by Picador USA (first published April 30th 2009)

Pages: 604

Genre: Historical Fiction


The Author:

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of many novels including Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Bring Up the Bodies, Book Two of the Wolf Hall Trilogy, was also awarded the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An Experiment in Love, The Giant, O’Brien, Fludd, Beyond Black, Every Day Is Mother’s Day, and Vacant Possession. She has also written a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. Mantel was the winner of the Hawthornden Prize, and her reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. She lives in England with her husband. 


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