Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel

....Assuming that the last part is figurative since I'm not the most widely travelled person in the world although my beloved paperbacks have been my bedmates for as long as I can remember. Hello readers...this is procrastinator135 and I look forward to reviewing some of the books I read. Hopefully they'll all bag 5-star reviews and not prove to be a waste of precious time, ink and paper. You can leave a comment if you want me to read and review a particular book for you or you can share your thoughts with me on my latest review.

I'm not fussy about genres though I have to admit that I'm partial to fantasy/fiction and psychological thrillers and after Hunger Games I'm definitely hooked on to dystopia. But I don't really dig mediocre stuff lacking plot and grammatical precision. I suppose my ideal book would be a combination of Dan Brown's plots, JKR's characterisation, Jeffrey Archer's writing style, Douglas Adam's sense of humour and Eoin Colfer's cockiness. Okay...that may not be that most practical combination but a girl can dream right?

Ahem...back to business. I recently got my hands on a copy of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Amidst all the hype about the booker prize winning novel whose sequel too has thwarted all competition to win the honour as well, it was almost impossible to read it with an unbiased point of view. It would undoubtedly be a right treat for all the historical fiction lovers who crave for factual accuracy and precision since Mantel's attention to detail is admirable. 

The book peels back history to show us Tudor England in all its disastrous glory as a half made society. Tudor era is an addictive one to read about. A petulant king who wants to annul his marriage of 20 yrs to Katherine of Aragon(who happens to be his dead brother's ex-wife) to get a male heir to avoid all possibilities of a civil war, the power hungry seductress Anne Boleyn and the brilliant cardinal Wolsey, the king's advisor who is destroyed by a peremptory king's quest for freedom- oh the drama...a heady combination indeed.

The book's protagonist though is none of these charming people but Thomas Cromwell- the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, bully and a charmer who steps into this impasse to occupy the power vacuum created by Wolsey's death. Mantel's multilayered characterisation of all the characters is great. She has a distinct writing style with just the right amount of description. 

'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon on the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back at night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating lark's tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.'

'What he says about Gregory is, at least he isn't like I was, when I was his age; and when people say, what were you like? he says, oh, I used to stick knives in people.'

'You're sweeter to look at than the cardinal,'he says.
'That's the smallest compliment a woman ever received.'
'And I've been working on it all the way from Yorkshire.' He shakes his head.

Cromwell rises from a personal disaster and picks his way through a court where 'a man is wolf to man'. The book was richly overflowing with incident and although the reader might get irritated with the slow pace of the story at some point, the high doses of drama in court life more than make up for its shortcomings.

Overall a nice read but for me it lacked that certain element of intrigue that a fast paced novel has that keeps the reader hooked on till the end and makes the book unputdownable. But if you are not plagued by copious amounts of homework or you don't have a from-pits-of-hades boss who keeps you nose to the grindstone-in other words you have the time and patience to finish the 650 pg masterpiece- you might want to catch a glimpse of tudor England through Hilary Mantel's eyes.

No comments:

Post a Comment