Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel

Since I am reading at an accelerated rate, a lot of the bigger books I have read, ones that are 500 pages or more have not been very good. I don’t feel my rate of reading is to be at fault, but it has somewhat put a damper on my love of longer novels. That is the case with the book that I read while I was on vacation at Cedar Point, the first book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, the Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall. While it is certainly better and more entertaining than a book like Turbulence and easier to read than Skagboys, there was sadly not a lot that interested me over the book’s 600 pages. Historical fiction, at least when it comes to medieval times, really isn’t a big area of interest for me, and my feelings toward this book are really encompassed my disinterest for that time period, but I always seek out new books to challenge myself. The book focuses on the lawyer Thomas Cromwell, a rather ambiguous man whose agenda is self-serving, but also rather important to the success of the monarchy. He is tasked with the opposing the Pope and the rest of the Catholic Church in order to help Henry VIII annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn and so she might possibly birth a male heir. The book starts off really strong, with Walter, Thomas’ father, almost beating Thomas to death for learning how to read. I was much more interested in these lay characters more so than I was with anything having to do with the Royal Court, which I felt was a little too complex for an average person to really enjoy and understand. I have no qualms about a book like this winning the Booker Prize, which is always a crapshoot when it comes to actual quality, but this book is well-written enough that it deserves the honor. It is simply not my cup of tea.

Rating: 3/4

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