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Wolf Hall

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Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall (Book)

Current Status:
In Season
Hilary Mantel
Henry Holt and Company
History, Fiction

We gave it a B

For centuries, Thomas Cromwell has been depicted as a villain, the Machiavellian architect of the English Reformation and Henry VIII’s first divorce. In Hilary Mantel’s spirited novel, Wolf Hall, which just won this year’s Man Booker Prize, we meet a Cromwell quite unlike the one in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons or even Showtime’s The Tudors. He’s not only sympathetic, but a principled figure of reason and decency (quite unlike the usually saintly Thomas More, here seen as vain, petty, and torture-happy). This dense book features a 98- person character list that only somewhat helps untangle the story’s glut of Thomases, Henrys, and Marys. But Mantel has a solid grasp of court politics and a knack for sharp, cutting dialogue. B

See all of this week’s reviews