Posts Tagged ‘Hilary Mantel’

Hilary Mantel now has two volumes in her faux-Victorian novel projected to be completed in four volumes.  The first volume was Wolf Hall, winner of the Man Booker Prize, something the English like to consider prestigious.  Wolf Hall covered the period when Henry VIII disposes of his first wife Katherine Of Aragon using the ever helpful Thomas Cromwell.  In the second volume, Bring Up The Bodies, Henry VIII is struggling to get rid of Anne Boleyn, his second wife, again with the very able and willing Thomas Cromwell at his service.

What is there not to love about these two historical novels?  Henry VIII is as double jointed as any of our recent presidents.  And he has the Dick Cheney of the Tudor era darting behind and then in front of him.  Plus the novels have enough characters to populate Washington DC.

This is high-class English gossip, albeit of 1535, and the books are great page turners.  They will hold your attention like an OJ or Sandusky trial on television.  No book on Dick Cheney, now or in the future, is going to be both entertaining and insightful; but these two on his Tudor doppelganger are perfect on both counts.  The parallels are spooky.  Charles Marlin

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The Tudors were a family not disinclined to eat their own if threatened which made them both entertaining and engaging.  The current royals pale in comparison, perhaps because of all the German dilution.  Sadly we can only stand back and watch as the English pride in their royals wains.  Because of the dreary state of English affairs, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is a welcomed read.

Our hero in the novel is not Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn although she comes in a strong second, it is the down and dirty street fighter Thomas Cromwell who makes himself the consummate royal councilor.  Cromwell eventually learns how to take the sludge and emesis, the animal and human waste of the Thames and make a very saleable wine of it.  His trick of survival was to never drink more than a ceremonial sip while others indulged themselves.

If in the past you have stumbled over the large cast of Tudor characters, the author has come to your aid by providing lists of characters and the family shrubbery of the Tudors.  Even so it is a hopeless task to try to understand how the English run a government.  Based on how they function at home it must have taken divine intervention for them to clutch their first colony let alone something approaching an empire.

  This leads to my theory on the nurturing of Shakespeare, yet another reason to enjoy reading about Thomas Cromwell and associates.  It was the fractious, bloody, in-your-face people with a language held together by thievery and the unwashed of street and tavern that brewed the right amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and hormones to give William Shakespeare the superior edge on stage.

For the main characters of the novel there are Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII as you would expect.  Then there are the queens Thomas Wolsey, Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas More.  It is any wonder that by the end of the book, two had a forced exit with more to follow.  Peace and tranquility require one and only one queen.  Charles Marlin and John Hink

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