The Sunday Times bestseller
Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction
Longlisted for the Booker Prize
‘It is a book not read, but lived’ Telegraph
‘Mantel has taken us to the dark heart of history … and what a show’ The Times
The Sunday Times bestselling sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the stunning conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall trilogy.
‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’
England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.
Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?
With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.
A Guardian Book of the Year • A Times Book of the Year • A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year • A Sunday Times Book of the Year • A New Statesman Book of the Year • A Spectator Book of the Year
Sunday Times Bestseller (08/03/2020)
About the author
Hilary Mantel is the author of seventeen books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, the memoir Giving Up the Ghost and the short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Her latest novel, The Mirror & the Light, won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, while Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were both awarded the Booker Prize.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Hilary Mantel’s Inside Story: “The Mirror and the Light is the final part of my Wolf Hall trilogy, which centres on the Tudor statesman Thomas Cromwell. Born obscurely, Cromwell rose to become the right-hand man of Henry VIII and occupied the great offices of state during the most violent and dramatic years of his reign. In Wolf Hall, we followed Cromwell’s rise to power. In Bring Up the Bodies, he navigated the critical days leading to the execution of the king’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. The new book begins at the moment Anne’s head falls. We follow his further rise and rise, until the blacksmith’s son becomes an earl. Now, every day is a crisis, and the reader has a close-up view of his struggles with populist rebels, aristocratic enemies—and his boss, the monstrous king himself. Cromwell was a complex and clever man, and the fact that he’s so hard to understand made him a brilliant subject for a long novel sequence. You never seem to exhaust or grasp him; all the same, in concluding his story, I mean to give the reader a sharp sense of what it was like to watch through his eyes as the gruesome saga of his times unfolds.”
The end of the trilogy, when Cromwell’s finger is no longer on the pulse, control has slipped away and he doesn’t even realise it is something that will stay forever. Mantel’s treatment of his downfall, from his perspective, is brilliant.