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Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel The marriages of Henry VIII is a common historical episode used in novels - and for good reason. Henry's desire to divorce his first wife and marry the seductive Anne Boleyn led to the separation of England from the Catholic church. As far as political intrigue and shady deals negotiated in castle corners, it doesn't get much better than this time period. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall has added an interesting twist on the story by telling it from Thomas Cromwell's point of view. History, or at least Hollywood, has decided that Cromwell was brilliant, cunning, a political genius, but totally ruthless. But this story shows a different side of Cromwell. We see Cromwell as a young vulnerable boy who runs away from home to escape a physically abusive father. Cromwell is portrayed as a loving husband and father who loses most of his family in the plague. He is a brilliant political tactician, but he is motivated not by greed, but just trying to survive in a cutthroat court led by a spoiled and mercurial king. Telling the story through Cromwell's eyes was brilliant and the depiction of England - not only the complexities of Henry's court, but the day to day life - really came to life in this novel. Hearing Cromwell's thoughts definitely gave an insider's view of all of the political intrigue as well as rationalized Cromwell's actions. But, Mantel uses the word 'he' to mean Cromwell by default - even if the subject of the previous sentence was someone else. This made the book very confusing and in audio, not having the ability to backup and reread what was said, I found myself completely lost at times.