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Sanne

Sanne

I like to read classics, historical fiction and world lit. Oh and I love short stories.

Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)

Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) - Hilary Mantel, Ine Willems

This is how I like my historical fiction: meticulously researched, well developed characters and a well written story. Mantel has done an amazing job with her research into the characters and the time and by how she incorporated that into her fiction. Not once did it feel like a lecture, or like the author showing off her knowledge. Yet her writing shows her extensive knowledge on life in medieval London, the workings of a merchant's household, the festivals and events in a medieval year. She makes you believe Cromwell's expertise in drapes, the complexity of court politics, the work of an advocate. She conjures up the various historical places all over Europe, as well as the intimate details of the rooms of Cromwell's house, the court, the Tower. And she does so while narrating the complicated events around Henry: the king with his many wifes.

The only squabble I have is that I felt that in all those details of the story, Cromwell's development as a character was moved to the background, particularly in the second half of the book. While in the first half, we see Cromwell struggle

with juggling to support the Cardinal, while trying to find a new place at the court, as well as him dealing with his personal struggles: the loss of his wife and daughters and the subsequent grief.

(show spoiler)

However, his character gets very little development in the second half of the novel, due to a shift in focus on king Henry and his troubles - and what Cromwell is doing about that. While the day-to-day stuff of Cromwell's household still gets mentioned, it feels out of place, as Cromwell's personal story is no longer the focus of the plot.