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Wolf Hall England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn The pope and most of Europe opposes him Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition But Henry is volatile one day tender, one day murderous Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph hilary mantel is such a tease she calls her book wolf hall because she knows i have a crush on jane seymour, and then she just blah blah blahs about thomas cromwell for 500 pages, feeding me only tiny bites of jane sigh me and hil have always had a rocky history.i have read four of her books now, and have only really liked one beyond black but i keep trying this one was for class, but i probably would have read it anyway, because this summer i read a nice fat bio of henry VIII and really enjoyed a lot of characters in his court but it is so frustrating, reading historical fiction or biographies this is only my third tudor book because, yes, i totally read the other boleyn girl , and the malleability of history and the filters through which authors present these people is terribly inconsistent, depending on their own prejudices i loved chupuys in the weir book, but here he is so foppish and weird like a less fuckable david bowie in labyrinth sometimes mary boleyn is a victim, sometimes she is cold and calculating, sometimes she is just a party girl depending on who is telling me the story damn apologists there were sections of writing i loved here, but most of it was flat, to me.i thought the opening was great, and the last 60 pages or so were fairly rollicking, but for some reason much of the middle seemed arid, but peppered with episodes i loved i am glad that i read it, and a lot of my resistance may have just been my poor fever riddled brain s inability to concentrate for any reasonable period of time, but i m not swayed to mantelmania just yet try try again.addition can someone help me with this, because i am getting conflicting opinions from people i trust equally please tell me how to pronounce chupuys one smart person said it was pronounced cha pwah , and another smart person made it rhyme with pepys fix this rift for me please.come to my blog Have you ever been with a group of people when someone tells a joke and the rest of the group thinks it s hilarious but you just don t get it Wolf Hall was that way for me So many people think it s brilliant while I couldn t maintain enough interest to finish it.I love historical fiction, especially from this time period, so I expected to really like this one I thought that telling the story of Henry VIII from the viewpoint of Cromwell was an interesting twist and I looked forward to learning about him So what was the problem Well, for starters, the writing style took turns irritating and confusing me Quotation marks are apparently optional, making it hard to figure out that you re reading dialogue until you get to the he said Speaking of which, the author relies heavily on the pronoun he and since there were frequently at least 2 men in each scene, this reader was often unsure which he was the right he As the men in scene multiplied, so did the confusion It took so much effort to figure out who was who and who said what and what was going on that it stopped being entertaining or thought provoking and just became work.And did I mention the colon The poor, lonesome, and oft ignored colon finally has his time in the spotlight in this novel Upgraded from lonely punctuation understudy, the colon has a lead role here The author uses colons so frequently and somewhat oddly that I would recommend a complete colonectomy Here s an example from one paragraph Aargh A colon It must be contagious But by the time he reaches Dover the big gash on his scalp has closed, and the tender parts inside, he trusts, have mended themselves kidneys, lungs, and heart Morgan Williams will have done an inventory of him before he left teeth miraculously still in his head, and two eyes, miraculously seeing Two arms, two legs what do you want Overall, the book felt like it was trying too hard to be literary Some of the prose was lovely, but there were enough little stylistic choices that annoyed me to put me off After reading numerous reviews, even from people who loved the book, that said that most of the characters remained distant throughout and that they didn t learn anything about Cromwell after reading 500 pages, that was enough for me Sadly, life s too short and my TBR pile s too big I had to abandon this one. I just started Wolf Hall, and I find the relentless use of he to be extremely irritating In the first several chapters, there are dozens of instances where it is not clear who is speaking Every once in a while, as if recognizing the problem she has created, Mantel uses the phrase he, Cromwell Why not just say Cromwell Unless there is some good reason which I can t imagine, this sort of obfuscation is just lazy writing which disrespects the reader May I re think that, based on a comment by another reader It s not lazy writing It s very purposeful And very distracting later I just read some of the reviews There are actually quite a few readers who found the he business as disconcerting as I did, and who expressed their displeasure in rather strong terms, along with many star ratings However, many others really liked the book, as do many Goodreads readers, so it must not bother them as it does me Another Goodreads reader suggested that the use of he all the time created a closer intimacy with Cromwell Perhaps, but I see it differently If you want to create intimacy, use the first person Then it is clear that everything is seen and felt by the single protagonist, and the reader can share that character s viewpoint, thoughts and feelings What Mantel has done is not to bring us close to Cromwell, but to inject herself, the author, between the reader and the prime character She does this on practically every page and I find it jarring every time it happens.Before my final negative notes, let me say that Mantel clearly has an exquisite command of the language Even in the few chapters I read, her elegant choice of words often made me reflect and smile She can paint a picture when describing a character or a setting that is truly wonderful And, when she chooses to do so, she writes a vivid scene that has power and emotion.Such continuity of story, however, is the exception rather than the rule The constant switching of time and place, often without the merest hint of transition, made the reading much difficult than it had to be Just a word here or there would have made a huge difference.Finally, the breezy style in which much of the book is written is entertaining, as many have noted and I agree, but it had the effect of making me wonder if Mantel was as true to the history as I think a historical fiction should be Of course the dialogue and many of the personal incidents are made up, but does the author, when portraying actual events, present them accurately I think such concern for the truth is an obligation of an author when writing about historical characters and events Mantel left me unsure.I think I ve had enough of Wolf Hall, and perhaps other Goodreads readers have had enough of my criticism of what is surely a popular book I don t usually write negative opinions, but this book just seemed to drag them out of me I hope I have not offended anyone. Suppose within each book there is another book, and within every letter on every page another volume constantly unfolding but these volumes take no space on the desk Suppose knowledge could be reduced to a quintessence, held within a picture, a sign, held within a place which is no place Suppose the human skull were to become capacious, spaces opening inside it, humming chambers like beehives Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein Cromwell was a great supporter of Holbein and personal gave him many commissions for paintings, but also recommended him to the powerful people he knew.Thomas Cromwell was first and foremost a thinker The myth that we only use about 10% of our brains has been debunked in recent years, but I do think we can accurately say that for some of us our brain works efficiently I think if we were to sit in a very quiet room with Thomas Cromwell we might actually be able to hear the humming of his mind like the circuitry of a super computer Henry the Eighth I m Enery the Eighth, I am, Enery the Eighth I am, I am I got married to the widow next door,She s been married seven times beforeAnd every one was an EneryShe wouldn t have a Willie nor a SamI m her eighth old man named Enery Enery the Eighth, I am Sorry I can t ever seem to say or write his name without that song popping into my head Let s try this again Henry the Eighth was not supposed to be king The 16th century was supposed to be the return of the Age of Camelot when his older brother, Arthur, claimed his birthright and became king of England It was Arthur that had been tutored and trained to be king Henry would have been destined for the church if not for the fickleness of fate that left his brother dead six months before his sixteenth birthday Henry the Eighth rules like a second son that was always second best He is impetuous, bombastic, corpulent, and prone to fits of fury He is not a stupid man and always surrounded himself with intelligent men, disciplined men, who could provide him with wise counsel He did not always take their advice, but he did always give them a chance to make a case The most iconic image of Henry the Eighth painted by Holbein as a mural in Whitehall Palace It was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1698, but survives through the numerous copies that were made of it Notice the bulging calves Henry was always very proud of them.Henry preferred advisers named Thomas.Thomas WolseyThomas MoreThomas CromwellCromwell worked for Thomas Wolsey and when the cardinal fell out of favor it could have been the end for Cromwell s hopes as well Cromwell is a lot of things, a complicated man, a sometimes hard man, but ultimately he is a survivor It is so interesting that Hilary Mantel decided to paint a sympathetic picture of him than what I d previously thought him to be He understood money and that true power does not reside with the man on the throne The world is not run from where he thinks Not from his border fortresses, not even from Whitehall The world is run from Antwerp, from Florence, from places he has never imagined from Lisbon, from where the ships with sails of silk drift west and are burned up in the sun Not from castle walls, but from countinghouses, not by the call of the bugle but by the click of abacus, not by the grate and click of the mechanism of the gun but by the scrape of the pen on the page of the promissory note that pays for the gun and the gunsmith and the powder and shot Thomas More by Hans Holbein.I first met Thomas More through his book Utopia in a class in college The Praise of Folly by Erasmus was also required reading for the same class I thought both books were fantastic because to truly understand the writings of these two important writers one must explore the history behind the books So I wanted to love More, but as I learned about him the title of his book became and an inappropriate extension of the man His view of how the real world should work was not the Utopia he persuaded me could exist He was opposed to the Protestant Reformation He, with great fervor, began to hunt down anyone connected to the Reformation and interrogate, torture and burn them He didn t keep his distance from it He was frequently down in the stench and the squalor of the dungeons watching his prisoners being broken on the rack The flames of burning heretics danced in his eyes He may have taken too much pleasure in his work My theory is anyone who wears a hairshirt all the time and scourges themselves for evening entertainment is not someone I want making decisions about my life More may have been brilliant, but those beautiful marbles in his head were scrambled There have been many beautiful actresses to play the enchanting Anne Boleyn, but my favorite is Natalie Dormer from The Tudors simply because she has that saucy smirk that could be used as such a weapon quite capable of bringing down a King or a kingdom to achieve her ambitions.When the King, in his pursuit of Anne Boleyn, decides that the only way he is going to free himself from the albatross from Aragon, Catherine, is to break with the Roman Catholic Church This puts the King in direct conflict with one of his most trusted advisers the before mentioned Thomas More Sir Thomas cannot break with his beliefs When he is asked to sign an oath supporting the King he refuses He certainly had a martyr complex In fact Cromwell in a last ditch effort to try and save More s life points out his hubris in thinking of himself as a Christ figure It was to no avail I do believe that Cromwell feels an uneasiness about the fates of the powerful men who came before him He is always trying to hedge his bets, loaning money at ridiculous low interests to the aristocrats, soothing the relationship between Anne and her sister Mary Henry s current favorite bed warmer as he waits for Anne to pop open her corset , taking care of embarrassing circumstances for other people, forming alliances with the enemies of his friends, and being kind to Henry s only surviving child Mary with Catherine He is always trying to anticipate the future He worked to soften the blows to his enemies believing that someday they would be potential allies He took in orphans, not just from his family, but even from people unconnected to him He assessed their best aspects and put them with tutors so they would be useful to him in the future He understands people and knows how to manipulate them and encourage them at the same time But it is no use to justify yourself It is no good to explain It is weak to be anecdotal It is wise to conceal the past even if there is nothing to conceal A man s power is in the half light, in the half seen movements of his hand and the unguessed at expression of his face It is the absence of facts that frightens people the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires He is but a man and there is no time when that is evident than when his daughter Grace dies Grace dies in his arms she dies easily, as naturally as she was born He eases her back against the damp sheet a child of impossible perfection, her fingers uncurling like thin white leaves I never knew her, he thinks I never knew I had her It has always seemed impossible to him that some act of his gave her life, some unthinking thing that he and Liz did, on some unmemorable night The sweating sickness took his wife and both his daughters leaving only him and his son Gregory alive Maybe those deaths is why he felt so compelled to fill his house with children It didn t have to be his children He thought all children were salvageable, moldable, if encouraged to work at being better at what they were best at Cromwell grew up the son of a blacksmith His father beat him so severely, in fact the book opens with a scene that showed the impassioned brutality that his father was capable of, that Cromwell leaves to join the army and seek his fortune abroad He taught himself to read He was always working his mind like a muscle making it stronger with every book he read With every moment he spent studying the workings of economics, politics, and psychology he didn t know that was what it was called he was giving himself the means to make better decisions, to offer better advice, to hone his cunning He was truly a self made man who by sheer audacity and brilliance made it to the pinnacles of power When he becomes sick though and is at his most vulnerable the fears of a child creep into his mind On the stairs he can hear the efficient, deathly clip of his father s steel tipped boots Hilary Mantel, what big eyes you have.Little is known about the early life of Thomas Cromwell He would be pleased to know that He was much interested in knowing everything about everyone and careful about letting others know anything about him He was a long game thinker Something he does one day may not make sense to those around him until much later when the dominoes fall a new direction Mantel will clothe him, put flesh on his bones, share his innermost thoughts, and show you a man capable of being ruthless, but just as likely to be compassionate Though Henry was particularly fascinated with lopping off heads Cromwell knew that ultimately as you eliminate one enemy you only create If possible it is much smarter to blackmail, confuse, or convince an arch enemy, maybe not to be friends that would be expecting too much, but at least to become a passive challenger There are a lot of Thomas s in this book and at times it can seem confusing, but the rule of thumb is if you are not clear about who is speaking or who is sharing their inner thoughts that would be Thomas Cromwell Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and highly recommended by this dedicated reader If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

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