Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books, including A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, BEYOND BLACK, the memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST, and the short-story collection THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER. Her two most recent novels, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES, have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize - an unprecedented achievement.
As Henry VIII's go-to man for his dirty work, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) isn't a likely candidate for a sympathetic portrait. He dirtied his hands too often. In the end, Henry dropped him just as he had Cromwell's mentor, Cardinal Wolsey, who counseled the king before him. But as Mantel (Beyond Black) reminds us, Cromwell was a man of many parts, admirable in many respects though disturbing in others. Above all, he got things done and was deeply loyal to his masters, first Wolsey and then the king. Nor was Henry always bloated and egomaniacal: well into his forties, when in good spirits, the king shone brighter than all those around him. Verdict Longlisted for the Booker Prize, this is in all respects a superior work of fiction, peopled with appealing characters living through a period of tense high drama: Henry's abandonment of wife and church to marry Anne Boleyn. It should appeal to many readers, not just history buffs. And Mantel achieves this feat without violating the historical record! There will be few novels this year as good as this one. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09; history buffs may also enjoy reading Robert Hutchinson's biography, Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister, reviewed on p. 66.-Ed.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
'So original and disconcerting that it will surely come to be seen as a paradigm-shifter' Sunday Telegraph
'As soon as I opened the book I was gripped. I read it almost non-stop. When I did have to put it down, I was full of regret that the story was over, a regret I still feel. This is a wonderful and intelligently imagined retelling of a familiar tale from an unfamiliar angle' The Times
'A stunning book. It breaks free of what the novel has become nowadays. I can't think of anything since Middlemarch which so convincingly builds a world' Diana Athill, author of Somewhere Towards the End
'This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers' Olivia Laing, Observer
'A fascinating read, so good I rationed myself. It is remarkable and very learned; the texture is marvellously rich, the feel of Tudor London and the growing household of a man on the rise marvellously authentic. Characters real and imagined spring to life, from the childish and petulant King to Thomas Wolsey's jester, and it captures the extrovert, confident, violent mood of the age wonderfully' C.J. Sansom, author of The Shardlake Series
'A magnificent achievement: the scale of its vision and the fine stitching of its detail; the teeming canvas of characters; the style with its clipped but powerful immediacy; the wit, the poetry and the nuance' Sarah Dunant, author of The Birth of Venus
'A superb novel, beautifully constructed, and an absolutely compelling read. A novel of Tudor times which persuades us that we are there, at that moment, hungry to know what happens next. It is the making of our English world, and who can fail to be stirred by it?' Helen Dunmore, author of Birdcage Walk
Set aside a full day to savor Simon Slater's delightful reading of the Booker Prize-winning tale of Henry VIII's court, seen through the eyes of his adviser Thomas Cromwell. Mantel's revisionist take turns Cromwell-so frequently vilified as in A Man for All Seasons-into a modern sort of hero, shrewd and adaptable. Slater's narration is nuanced and precise; he breathes feeling and subtle shades of emotion into every exchange of dialogue. His is a heroic undertaking, and he does admirable justice to Mantel's lucid prose and juicy plot. A Holt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 17). (Dec.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.