Bringing the Tudors to Life
The Wolf Hall trilogy and The Mirror & the Light, by Hilary Mantel
Reviewed by Mrs Walker
With millions of other eager Hilary Mantel fans, I seized my copy of The Mirror & the Light just before Covid-19 threw the country into lockdown. It sustained me for the first two and a half weeks in brilliant fashion. The Wolf Hall trilogy is a literary masterpiece and Mantel’s devoted readers will, like me, have revelled in all its many pages of historical drama, pageantry and intrigue. The three books tell of the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell; a fascinating character, a truly self-made man with remarkable talent who, under the patronage of the ill-fated Cardinal Wolsey, eventually comes under the eye of King Henry VIII.
Five hundred years of history fall away as Hilary Mantel brings the Tudor world to life, in all its deadly richness. This a world where everyone knows their place and you’re supposed to stay in it, all your precarious life. Thomas Cromwell’s amazing rise from the dregs of Putney, running away from home at the age of fourteen, escaping from his brutal father, Walter, a local brawler, blacksmith, and brewer of bad beer, to become King Henry’s right hand man, the person to whom the king entrusted all power and the reins of state, is utterly astonishing.
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