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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wolf Hall

As soon as I saw this book on the library shelves I felt some slight apprehension. It is a very thick book and I wondered if I would ever finish it. My uneasiness only worsened when, glancing through the pages, it dawned on me that this was an historical novel and I don’t usually like historical novels. Luckily the story line was set in a period of English history that I don’t mind reading about – the time of Henry VIII.

When I curled up in bed that night and began to read Wolf Hall the first thing that struck me was how easy it was to read. The language flows in an almost poetical style and, although you get the sense of olde Englande, it is actually easy to understand. Following who is talking can be slightly tricky at times and Mantle’s use of person sometimes confused me, but overall I enjoyed the actual reading of this novel.

The characters were well described and even the lowliest of them was quite interesting. I especially got pleasure from the consistency of the characters’ behaviour as a few of them were with me throughout the entire story and it was nice to know they became reasonably predictable.

Nevertheless this book takes some reading and about half way through I started to lose my attention span and wish that either the story had been told in a shorter version or some of the peripheral bits had been left out. I began to get bored and found myself sneaking peeks at the last few pages of the book. Despite my growing lack of interest I managed to finish the book and I’m glad I did.

Reading this book did mean doing some research, although it’s not a necessity and the story can be enjoyed without knowing the historical detail. However I did look up several of the characters including the main man Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary. I didn’t even know Anne Boleyn had a sister until I read this book! I also reacquainted myself with some of the historical facts from that time as my high school history lessons are buried deep in the whorls of my brain and not easily retrievable.

I can recommend this book to anyone who gets pleasure from reading historical novels or anyone who enjoys good characterisation and plot.

The next novel I plan to read is The White Tiger and I will let you know how that goes as soon as I tackle it!


  1. It is good to read a book about a period in history that you enjoy reading about and Henry VIII sure is an interesting fellow. Hope the next one is as enjoyable for you

  2. I feel like lately I don't have time to read more than school books and the newspaper. Before I had my daughter I used to read a book a day.

  3. Thanks for the review. I usually enjoy historical novels, but have also found that they can be quite wordy.

  4. Gaz - Henry VIII was very interesting indeed! And this book showed events from a different angle.

    Mrs Tuna - I've had to stop reading for pleasure now as the new University semester has started, so I'll be only reading school books too!

    Kazzy - They are a bit wordy but I guess that comes with the territory!