Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy 1) – Hilary Mantel


‘Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,’ says Thomas More, ‘and when you come back that night he’ll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks’ tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.’ England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor.

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Mantel won the Booker Prize for this novel that examines the scandals of the court of King Henry VIII through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell was the son of a blacksmith who rose to become the king’s closest advisor, chosen over many men of noble birth who were rankled by his appointment.

In literature and film covering the Tudor era, Cromwell is usually cast as the villain opposite the saintly Sir Thomas More, but Mantel turns this dichotomy on its head and gives Cromwell a human side while showing More to be a self-righteous brute. In the end, Cromwell does what he does for his family.

By: Calvin Scholtz, Wordsworth Longbeach


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