Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

wolfhallThis award winning book is a fictional biography of Thomas Cromwell, a low born man who rose to be Henry VIII’s most powerful minister — before Henry had him executed as he did so many in his inner circle.  (But that occurs in the sequel, Bringing Up the Bodies, which is excellent as well.)  The title of the book refers to the Seymour family seat, Wulfhall, in Wiltshire.  It spans the period from 1500 through 1535. Cromwell began in the service of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, one of the King’s advisor’s. He survived Wolsey’s fall only to rise higher, overseeing Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn; the English church’s break with Rome; and the dissolution of the monasteries.  History has not been kind to Cromwell.  He is portrayed as an unprincipled, grasping climber.  Here, however, Cromwell comes off as man with talent trying to serve his country despite the resentment of aristocrats at Henry’s court, and the religious upheavals of the Protestant reformation.

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