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This IS a surprising historical novel ! It's about Thomas Cromwell's rise between the 1520s and the 1530s. Thomas Cromwell was born to a working-class family and is first noticed by the all powerful Cardinal Wolsey. After becoming his right-hand, he becomes in turn a very prominent figure at Henry VIII's court. He will lead and carry out the break with Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries and the return of their possessions to the Crown's treasury. He will also make sure that this monarch's dearest desire is made possible so that he gets married with Anne Boleyn.

What I liked about the book is the contradictory portrait offered by Hilary Mantel. For me Thomas Cromwell was a mean, calculating, shrewd politician but Mantel makes him look genuinely caring, almost benevolent at times, especially to his household and the people who are dear to him. Even though he is a shrewd politician, he's not devoid of gratitude as he sees to the comfort of Cardinal Wolsey when he's exiled from the court and almost destitute after his riches have been confiscated. The style of the book is also quite surprising. The plot is set in short - or not so short scenes as if they were seen through a camera lens. It really has a cinematographic quality. Sometimes the reader can only guess if Cromwell is present or not in those scenes, because it's difficult to spot who the narrator is or what the point of view is.

To my mind, this is what makes this historical novel very modern and quite enjoyable to read although at time it can be somewhat lengthy.
0Commentaire|9 personnes ont trouvé cela utile. Ce commentaire vous a-t-il été utile ?OuiNonSignaler un abus
le 26 janvier 2013
If you don't have a good background in Tudor history this book is confusing. I was often lost between the whos who in relation to who but once I got that down I enjoyed Wolf Hall so much that I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series-Bringing Up the Bodies
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le 19 février 2013
I hate the use of the present tense though. And throughout it is often confusing whether - when using the much used "he" - whether it is Cromwell or another character being referred to.

But still a great book.
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le 29 février 2012
This is quite an interesting book mostly because of the surprising light in which it places Cromwell. I already knew he was a cunning man even a little machiavelic at times but Hilary Mantel also depicts him as an affectionate husband and father, devoted servant, to Cardinal Wolsey first and to King Henry VIII next. In this book, Cromwell is someone you can relate too as a man of low birth who has been able to rise to great honors through hard labor and who does not let the noblemen humble him and always seem to have the right retort at hand to fight back their attacks.

Yet, the book is otherwise quite classical in its view of the period;
- Richard the Third remains a great vilain (even though some scholars have started to contest this depiction of him),
- Anne Boleyn appears as a rather clever but mainly mischievous woman capable of anything to become Queen (this time again, Anne Boleyn was a much more complicated human being, it is true that she used all the devices she had in her possession in order to secure the love of the king but she also gave a lot of money to charities, much more than Catherine of Aragon in fact, she saved quite a number of protestants from burning at the stake and she also took very good care of her daughter and breastfeeded her which was quite extraordinary for a noblewoman, most of all a queen at the time).

Finally, I would say this book is quite entertaining to read if you take it mostly as a fiction especially because of the original and interesting presentation of Cromwell.
The chief weakness of this book though might be that for people with no knowledge of the period it might have some difficulties to keep track of everything that was going on at the time whereas people well acquainted with the Tudors dynasty might found it a little simplistic regarding its account of the historical characters in play.
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le 25 septembre 2012
Hilary Mantel a le grand mérite de renouveler le genre du roman historique par une approche souvent originale et brute typiquement behavioriste qui se contente d'enregistrer le comportement des protagonistes. L'effet est saisissant.
En même temps, l'intime connivance entre le narrateur et le personnage de Thomas Cromwell propose un filtre subjectif audacieux et assure une dynamique de lecture qui invite à revisiter ces épisodes bien connus du schisme anglican, les affaires courantes se succédant, sans solution de continuité entre le banal et l'historique.
Loin de suggérer un conditionnement radical par l'environnement, Mantel utilise la forme romanesque pour présenter de manière convaincante l'émergence (accidentelle) de l'innovation historique.
Ce qui est également remarquable c'est que connaître par cœur la généalogie du schisme n'est pas indispensable: on apprend par exemple à apprécier l'importance progressive des mentions de Tyndale et de sa traduction de la Bible en anglais.
C'est un livre très contemporain, à l'écriture résolument moderne, exaltant la complexité de ce qui fait l'Histoire.
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le 17 juin 2010
genial, drole, impertinent, even if not easy to get into specially for a french reader
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le 1 juin 2013
Décevant par rapport aux éloges de la couverture.Passages ennuyeux parfois , le style est moyen .Le choix narratif à la 3éme personne entraine à des confusions sur le personnage qui parle
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le 2 août 2013
Althougth the historical and biographical content is well presented, the writing style, clearly intentional, leaves the reader often unclear of who the described events are referring to. "He".. does this refer to Thomas, to Henry, the person Thomas is talking to? Thnking about? Similarly, the shifts between the "present" life of Croimwell being described, and his "talking about" or "remembering" his past is often not clear, and leads to considerable confusion in following the narrative.
Having pointed this out, those readers who like both hyistorical fiction dealing with the Tudor times, and "innovative" writing styles will surely enjoy this book.
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le 6 février 2013
A good book ruined by over pretentious literary devices. He, he, he, varies from person to person, flashbacks add nothing except confusion, ends up being an irritant stylistically.
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le 30 novembre 2009
, in consequence I have started other books in the meantime, but do find time to get back to it. Having only read Beyond Black find the transistion of style to sixteenth century events a refreshing way to look at things.
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