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Man is a wolf for man
le 29 juin 2010
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.