It’s no surprise that Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall won the Man Booker award—it is a terrific book!
The first installment of a projected trilogy set in the court of Henry VIII, Wolf Hall examines the Tudor court through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. A polyglot pragmatist with lowly roots, Cromwell ultimately maneuvered himself into a position of power second only to the king’s. Mantel tells her story through Cromwell’s eyes, using Cromwell’s voice, and the resulting portrait is far more rounded and sympathetic than those most of us remember from history textbooks. There is a remarkable immediacy to this novel; it feels visceral, tangible, real. And I was stunned that a story I knew—this is based on historical facts, after all—could be so compelling.