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In the News: Wolf Hall Sequels

November 17, 2011

THE GUARDIAN UK IS REPORTING that Hilary Mantel is writing not one but two sequels to her Booker Prize winning “Wolf Hall.”

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, her dazzling, utterly absorbing invention of the inner life of Thomas Cromwell, will have not one sequel, as expected, but two. Mantel is now planning a Tudor trilogy: a new novel, Bring up the Bodies, to be published by 4th Estate in May 2012, will focus on the downfall of Anne Boleyn; and a third book will keep the title the author had already announced for the sequel, The Mirror & the Light, and will continue Cromwell’s story until his execution in 1540.

It was roundly agreed that “Wolf Hall” was excellent, including here at TPB.  It’s kind of like a real life “Game of Thrones.” And though it’s no longer available for trade, winter is coming, and along with it, the holidays.  Put it on your list, or treatyoself and get it today for whatever traveling you have to do.

Our original (short) review below.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Mantel earned the Booker Prize with this one.
Status: Currently seeking reader

“WOLF HALL” IS ALSO SET IN ENGLAND, but takes place roughly 450 years prior to “Black Swan Green.” Henry VIII is pushing through his divorce and remarriage via (re)formation of the Church of England, a process largely overseen by his unlikely adviser, Thomas Cromwell. Despite being at the center of this British lit, Cromwell’s story feels distinctly American: the poor son of an abusive father, he rises to the King’s court through cunning and aptitude. He is respectful but unbowed by title, humane in his judgments and progressive in the democratization of faith that enables King Henry to have what he wants. (N.B: This interpretation may have to do with my current reading on Alexander Hamilton, another impoverished, polymath upstart who found himself the closest adviser to the head of state during another time of tumultuous change.) The story’s episodic structure and the fact that so much happens offstage keeps readers at arm’s length from Cromwell, who is nevertheless an engaging and sympathetic not-quite-narrator.  The effect is important to the overall effort, but is difficult for Mantel to sustain over 600 pages. That’s the worst thing I can say about this book, the second-worst being that when I finished I felt instantly like I needed to read it again right away.

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