Wolf Hall (Mantel)

Wolf Hall (Wolf Hall Trilogy, 1)
Hilary Mantel, 2009
Henry Holt & Co.
560 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780312429980

Winner, 2009 Man Booker Prize
Winner, 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award

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. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, 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?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death. (From the publisher.)

Mantel published the sequel to Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, in 2012. The final volume, The Mirror and the Light, came out in 2020.

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