Montavilla wrote:I finally finished Wolf Hall....
The books are quite the high-brow read. Both novels won the Booker Prize, which is quite outstanding. Had a similar reading experience with Wolf Hall. Hence I did not touch the successor (and isn't there supposed to be a third one as well?).
I don't think the third one is out yet. I tried to find it for my mother (who loved both books), but it wasn't on Amazon. I ended up getting her another Hilary Mantel book, on the French Revolution. She's enjoying it, but not as much as the Cromwell books.
Simon wrote:Anyone interested in Wolf Hall should really have some knowledge about the time of Henry VIII. Otherwise, you might lose interest. But if I remember correctly, Wolf Hall has a pretty unique style of narration. I can understand why it won the Booker Prize (and I am curious why Bringing Out the Bodies also won the prize. Surely, the competition was strong.)
Oh, God, yes. I kept having to consult Wiki about all the characters and their complicated relationships to each other. This was after
watching the mini-series.
Also, after about 50 pages, I asked my brother (who gave me the first book), "Is the story ever going to start?" Because it all seemed to be laying the foundation for a story. He replied, "If you don't like it by now, you're probably not ever going to like it."
But I just kept plugging away at it. And the author's voice got stuck in my head -- it changes the way you look at things. Which is a good thing.
But I have to rant a little about this habit the author had (In Wolf Hall
) of slipping into Cromwell's head without telling you. This is a random sample:
"Is it something to do with the English," Cavendish asks earnestly. He's still thinking of the uproar back there when they embarked; and, even now, people are running along the banks, making obscene signs and whistling. "Tell us, Master Cromwell, you've been abroad. Are they particularly an ungrateful nation? It seems to me that they like change for the sake of it."
"I don't think its' the English. I think it's just people. They always hope for something better."
"But what do they get by the change?" Cavendish persists. "One dog sated with meat is replaced by a hungrier dog who bites nearer the bone. Out goes the man grown fat with honor, and in comes a hungry and lean man."
He closes his eyes. The river shifts beneath them, dim figures in an allegory of Fortune. Decayed Magnificence sits in the center. Cavendish, leaning at his right like a Virtuous Councillor, mutters of superfluous and belated advice, to which the sorry magnate inclines his head; he, like a Tempter, is seated on the left, and the cardinal's great hand, with its knuckles of garnet and tourmaline, grips is own hand painfully.
, pg. 50-51
Who is the "he" in that last paragraph? You'd think it was Cavendish at the beginning of it, but it's actually Cromwell. Combine that with the density and complication of the writing in general and it's just work
to get through a page.
I think someone must have given the author some very pointed feedback, because, in the second book, she's careful to mark this kind of transition to "he, Cromwell,
closes his eyes...."