Wolf Hall

A Novel

Mantel, Hilary

Book - 2009
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Wolf Hall
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power England in the 1520s 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 most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king's freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph? In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2009.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 0805080686
Characteristics: xvii, 532 p. (large print) :,geneal. table ;,25 cm.


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Mar 23, 2015
  • katchsun rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Mantel does a great job of bringing to life vaguely remembered names that had, since those long ago history lessons, been lost behind the shadows of Henry VIII and his six wives. The writing style draws the reader into conversations and historical events that have had a lasting impact. Having read both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, I look forward to reading other works by this author.

Mar 16, 2015
  • joeswain rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mantel does a great job bringing the controversies of this period to life; you can understand why the issues of the day motivated people so deeply that they gave their lives (or took them). I was especially interested in seeing Sir Thomas More from a very different point of view.

Mar 15, 2015
  • DanglingConversations rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

A long tedious plot about a time in history that is already over-romanticized. One would have to be a real aficionado of the period in English History to wade through the book. It is well written, but oh so much writing.

Dec 22, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Well deserving of the Booker prize, Mantel paints a very detailed, fully formed picture of the religious upheaval of Tudor England under Henry VIII. Brilliant dialogue and character interaction make the reader wonder if Mantel is in possession of a time machine. The story unfolds without exposition, told solely by the narrative itself.

Nov 23, 2014
  • jtinsf rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Ever know someone who walks up to you and starts talking as if the two of you were in the middle of a conversation? That's what I feel like when I read Hilary Mantel. She's not a easy read by any means. However, about three-fourth of the way through the book I start to enjoy it. Helpful hint: Any time she uses the pronoun "he" and it not obvious to whom she is referring, it is usually Cromwell, her main character.

Nov 12, 2014
  • nerowolfgal rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wonderful, brilliant writing! It is a sheer pleasure to read and savour. The book is written about some of the pivotal moments of English history from the viewpoint of Tomas Cromwell. He is (as he was historically) a brilliant clear-sighted man, a financial genius who spoke at least seven languages and had contacts and respect all over Europe. He was the son of a drunken blacksmith who rose to the highest rank and power of his time and was surrounded by nobles who despised his birth, yet he flourished. He was also a very clear, pragmatic thinker who examined his own mind and other people with total honesty. I must say though, if you do not have basic knowledge of the people and issues at the court of Henry the 8th, he gives no background, as the whole book is seen through his eyes and thoughts. A quick read of Wikipedia should be all you need.

Jun 06, 2014
  • Eosos rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I just couldn't finish this.

The writing style was frustratingly difficult to follow and the story endlessly boring.

May 12, 2014
  • debwalker rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Update May 12, 2014: Damian Lewis will play Henry VIII in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, directed by Peter Kosminsky. Cast includes Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Mark Gatiss (Stephen Gardiner), Anton Lesser (Thomas More) and Jonathan Pryce (Cardinal Wolsey). BBC News reported that the "much anticipated six-part miniseries, to be aired on BBC2 next year, has begun filming in both Bristol and the Wiltshire National Trust properties of Great Chalfield Manor and Lacock Abbey."


Aug 29, 2013
  • susankent rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mantel really got me caught up in this fascinating period in British history. She brought to life the English reformation, the character of Thomas Cromwell (of whom I knew nothing), Henry and of course the Boleyn sisters. Not normally a series reader, I can't wait to read the sequel!

Aug 23, 2013
  • modestgoddess rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Enjoyed this so much. Very very interesting window onto Tudor England in all its magnificent variety, from the very poor to the richest and most powerful in the land. Nice to see the Henry VIII saga through the eyes of the influential Cromwell - makes me want to read A Man for All Seasons again, and possibly skim through The Other Boleyn Girl again as well. Half a star off for the author's confusing habit of referring to Cromwell as "he" throughout, only occasionally clarifying with "he, Cromwell" - a nasty trick I can only forgive her for because overall it is so very very good. Not sure what purpose it served, actually: so readers wouldn't have to see the word "Cromwell" on the page, over and over again? or to try to bring us very close to the protagonist? It wound up being an irritant in an otherwise wholly enjoyable book.

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Jan 30, 2011
  • Tw1ggy rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Jan 30, 2011
  • Tw1ggy rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Violence: This title contains Violence.

Jan 30, 2011
  • Tw1ggy rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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Jul 05, 2013
  • pagetraveler rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

pagetraveler thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99

Jan 30, 2011
  • Tw1ggy rated this: 3 stars out of 5.


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Nov 25, 2013
  • grannyat55 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very well written.
But for someone who gets to read just 30 or so minutes at bedtime, it was too long - nearly 700 pages!

Jul 05, 2013
  • pagetraveler rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Based on English history and the time of the Tudors. Takes the point of view of Thomas Cromwell to tell the story of Henry the VIII and his 1st and 2nd wives and his relationship with the church.


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Jul 17, 2012
  • mudflapflossy rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

You learn nothing about men by snubbing them and crushing their pride. You must ask them what it is they can do in this world, that they alone can do.

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