Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Winner of both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Wolf Hall chronicles the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell to become one of King Henry VIII's most influential ministers, including his vital role in legendary events such as the King's marriage to Anne Boleyn and the English Church's break with Rome.
Reviewer: Stephen Greenblatt
"Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is a startling achievement, a brilliant historical novel focused on the rise to power of a figure exceedingly unlikely, on the face of things, to arouse any sympathy at all."
Reviewer: Christopher Benfey
"Mantel has filled in the blanks plausibly, brilliantly. “Wolf Hall” has epic scale but lyric texture. Its 500-plus pages turn quickly, winged and falconlike....Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” is both spellbinding and believable."
Reviewer: Olivia Laing
"This is a beautiful and profoundly humane book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as most brilliant writers."
Reviewer: Wendy Lesser
"Torn away from this sixteenth-century world, in which you have come to know the engaging, pragmatic Cromwell as if he were your own brother—as if he were yourself—you will turn to the Internet to find out more about him....But none of this, however instructive, will make up for your feeling of loss, because none of this additional material will come clothed in the seductive, inimitable language of Mantel's great fiction."
Reviewer: Wendy Smith
"Yet from this seemingly shopworn material, Hilary Mantel has created a novel both fresh and finely wrought: a brilliant portrait of a society in the throes of disorienting change, anchored by a penetrating character study of Henry's formidable advisor, Thomas Cromwell."
Reviewer: Martin Rubin
"Ms. Mantel has a knack for getting under the skin of her characters and capturing them (one feels) as they must have been...So convincing is she with "Wolf Hall" that it is easy to feel that we are seeing the real Cromwell before us..."
Reviewer: Joan Frank
"Hilary Mantel's magnificent Booker Prize-winning novel reads the way a great film races - a breathtaking, brainy, sexy, political thriller....Best of all, Mantel's indicated that a sequel's in the works. I can't wait."
Reviewer: Christopher Tayler
"Wolf Hall succeeds on its own terms and then some, both as a non-frothy historical novel and as a display of Mantel's extraordinary talent. Lyrically yet cleanly and tightly written, solidly imagined yet filled with spooky resonances, and very funny at times, it's not like much else in contemporary British fiction."
Reviewer: Julie Myerson
"Despite its length, the pace is fast. A couple of hundred pages in, you feel as if you might drown in its volume. But you emerge at the end dazed and moved, properly infected by the period. It both is and isn’t an easy read....But where Mantel really excels is in the small, dark stuff."
Reviewer: Lucy Hughes-Hallett
"This is a splendidly ambitious book, ample enough to hold a crowd of people and to encompass historical events across all of Europe...and hint at at least another novel’s worth of themes....I wait greedily for the sequel, but Wolf Hall is already a feast."
Reviewer: Ross King
"Mantel's abilities to channel the life and lexicon of the past are nothing short of astonishing....The dialogue is so convincing that she seems to have been, in another life, a stenographer taking notes in the taverns and palaces of Tudor England....There are double takes aplenty, however...Prepare for some seismic historical revisions."
Reviewer: Claudia FitzHerbert
"In lesser hands Cromwell’s modern sympathies – believing in nurture over nature, loving over burning, learning over prayer – might make for a lifeless and anachronistic portrait. But the devil is in the language and Mantel animates the familiar story with great imagination."
Reviewer: Colin Burrow
"The pleasures offered by Wolf Hall are substantial and deep: that finely turned humour...enables well-known pictures of the period to come to life and speak in curious accents....Wolf Hall certainly makes Cromwell a person, and a fascinating one; but it also makes him a little too much of a person."
Reviewer: Joan Acocella
"She always goes for color, richness, music....As for the portentousness, the book is full of such effects, and they are entirely appropriate to the magnificent and dangerous world that is being described. Mantel should be congratulated for creating suspense about matters whose outcome we’ve known since high school."
Reviewer: Chris Scott
"Written in the historical present, Cromwell's third-person stream of consciousness quickly palls, but Wolf Hall's external details are brilliant, sumptuous or wanton as the occasion demands....Mantel's painterly (or writerly) prose highlights the problem of voice."
Reviewer: Marjorie Kehe
"Much of the book is a thicket of names, alliances, and family entanglements taken directly from history. Mantel is considerate enough to provide family trees and charts of characters in the front of the book, but for those of us less well schooled in English history, keeping it all straight can be a challenge....“Wolf Hall” is sometimes an ambitious read. But it is a rewarding one as well."
Reviewer: Janet Maslin
"This witty, densely populated book may experience a rough passage when it crosses the Atlantic. For readers not fully versed in the nuances of England’s tangled royal bloodlines, not amused by Ms. Mantel’s deliberate obliqueness...or not even familiar with the effect of the law of praemunire on the papacy, “Wolf Hall” has its share of stumbling blocks."