Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
F R I D A Y F A V O U R I T E
A copy is always by my bed (note the torrid state of my first version). Initially frustrating — too many Henrys and ambiguity in dialogue, I persisted and fell in love.
Put 10 years of fastidious research with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Tudor England, mix in dry humour, inimitable wit and an evocative level of nuanced detail and you get Wolf Hall. Has Mantel time travelled, other astonished reviewers question. The characters are portrayed with such depth, the conversation fast-paced and intimate, gripping the reader even though the story is known — no mean feat.
Like Manuel Miranda achieves in Hamilton, Mantel brings Cromwell to life with such relatability, he transcends time and culture. At the book’s core is the son of a bullying blacksmith who achieves unimaginable greatness against all odds and has a profound impact on the world and history as we know it.
Mantel talks of these historical figures like you would about family you speak to every day; they live again through her words. Seeing the relationship develop between Cromwell and Henry VIIII is mesmerising. This is House of Cards or any political drama set in the 15th century with its own form of Brexit that is highly contemporary and relevant. This will always be one of my favourite books ever written and Tom Cromwell remains a firm friend years after my first read. ~ Chaya