Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel should always write historical fiction. She knows her stuff! This wasn’t a quick read, but I loved it. Much less frivolous than A Place of Greater Safety, but not dry or dense. Even the title of this book is interesting: Wolf Hall (or Wulf Hall) was the ancestral home of the Seymour family in the 1500s – home to Jane Seymour, who eventually becomes Henry VIII’s third wife. The historical scope of this novel only covers up to the reign of Anne Boleyn, and Wolf Hall is only really mentioned right at the end. This gives a really transient feel to the book. Hindsight tells us that this is not where the story ends – everything is in constant flux and people are continually jockeying for position and favour.
The novel covers Thomas Cromwell’s rise from an ambiguous start to becoming Henry VIII’s chief advisor, and follows his relationships with figures like Thomas More and Cardinal Wolsey. I love Hilary Mantel’s historical fiction because she can turn people from history into very authentic (or at the very least believable) characters: they are more than what we learn from our textbooks.