Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
This is an absolutely spellbinding account of Thomas Cromwell and his ascendency to the right hand of Henry V111. It evokes Tudor England so brilliantly that you're there, breathing the smells, listening to the horses hooves' on the cobblestones, scratching your lice and hearing the screams of the damned as they burn at the stake. Cromwell is portrayed as a scheming, complicated, difficult and fascinating political animal; there is a less than sympathetic depiction of Thomas More, who is shown as a pious hypocrite, and a kindly, almost indulgent, characterisation of Henry. Anne Boleyn emerges without glory. How can one describe the power of Mantel's storytelling? She is breathtaking. Read this book if you read nothing else for another year.
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Wolf Hall audiobook
This rating is for the narration. Hilary Mantel’s books are a rich deep study of characters and life in Tudor times. I enjoyed the books and also the wonderful TV adaptation. But gave up on Wolf Hall audio book about halfway through after listening again and again really trying to get into it. The voices for all characters sounded the same apart from Cardinal Wolsely which for me was so wildly different from the rest of the reading, irritating inflection, and ridiculous sounding - as this one of the main characters the listener has to endure this silly interpretation of this character almost constantly. The narrator in an audio book makes or breaks the experience. His narrating and characters became one monotonous drone and I think Simon Slater often forgot who he was reading as it became jumbled. It is sad that for those that have not read the books and can appreciate HM’s brilliant writing, will be totally put off by a narrator that seems to be reading his script for the first time and cannot carry the story. Sorry Simon Slater I’m sure you are a good actor but if you’re going to narrate a whole book without a cast of support actors then please think of the listener and bring the story to life and not consign it to a deep grave.