Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2009).
"In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power.
"England is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and Catholic Europe oppose him. The king's quest for freedom destroys his advisor, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and creates a year-long power struggle between the Church and the Crown.
"Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell, a wholly original man, both a charmer and a bully, an idealist and an opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy. Cromwell is a consummate politician, hardened by years abroad and his personal losses. Implacable in his ambition and self-taught -- it is said that he can recite the entire New Testament from memory, knows Europe's major languages, and speaks poetry freely -- Cromwell will soon become the country's most powerful figure after Henry. When Henry pursues his desire to marry Anne Boleyn, it is Cromwell who breaks the deadlock and allows the king his heart's desire. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition -- Thomas More, 'the man for all seasons'; Katherine the queen; his daughter the princess Mary -- but what will be the price of his triumph?"
"'So now get up.'
"Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard."
Gave up somewhere between a third and halfway through this book, when I realized I'd been plodding through it for almost 2 weeks because I Just. Wasn't. Interested. in reading it when I had free time in the evenings. I didn't hate it or want to chuck it across the room or anything -- it just wasn't particularly gripping. Slow-moving and sometimes confusing, the latter compounded by the author's tendency to shift from the first to the third person out of nowhere and have lots of musings and conversations go on just referring to "he" when that could be any one of several characters. Oh well.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.