Author(s): Hilary Mantel
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009
'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.'
England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.
Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.
Winner of Spear's Book Awards: Novel of the Year 2009 and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009 and Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2010 and Independent Booksellers' Book of the Year Award: Adults' Book of the Year 2010 and Galaxy National Book Awards: Waterstone's UK Author of the Year 2010. Shortlisted for Orange Prize for Fiction 2010
'This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers.' Olivia Laing, Observer 'As soon as I opened the book I was gripped. I read it almost non-stop. When I did have to put it down, I was full of regret that the story was over, a regret I still feel. This is a wonderful and intelligently imagined retelling of a familiar tale from an unfamiliar angle.' The Times 'Mantel is a writer who sees the skull beneath the skin, the worm in the bud, the child abuse in the suburbs and the rat in the mattress! Turning her attention to Tudor England, she makes that world at once so concrete you can smell the rain-drenched wool cloaks! This is a splendidly ambitious book! I wait greedily for the sequel, but Wolf Hall is already a feast.' Daily Telegraph 'A compelling and humane investigation of the cost of ambition.' Guardian 'Mantel's ability to pick out vivid scenes from sources and give them life within her fiction is quite exceptional! Vividly alive.' London Review of Book' 'A stunning book. It breaks free of what the novel has become nowadays. I can't think of anything since Middlemarch; which so convincingly builds a world.'Diana Athill 'Over two decades, [Mantel] has gained a reputation as an elegant anatomiser of malevolence and cruelty! Hers are books that refuse to shy away from the underside of life. It is that supple movement between laughter and horror that makes this rich pageant of Tudor life her most humane and bewitching novel! She provides a masterclass in the tragic arc of ascent and decline! Cromwell, who dreams of a nation that can talk and learn and worship freely, is revealed as the true author of England's independence! This tattered yarn has been spectaculary rewoven! This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers.' Olivia Laing, Observer 'A magnificent achievement: the scale of its vision and the fine stitching of its detail; the teeming canvas of characters; the style with its clipped but powerful immediacy; the wit, the poetry and the nuance.' Sarah Dunant
'A fascinating read, so good I rationed myself. It is remarkable and very learned; the texture is marvellously rich, the feel of Tudor London and the growing household of a man on the rise marvellously authentic. Characters real and imagined spring to life, from the childish and petulant King to Thomas Wolsey's jester, and it captures the extrovert, confident, violent mood of the age wonderfully.' C.J. Sansom
'A superb novel, beautifully constructed, and an absolutely compelling read. Mantel has created a novel of Tudor times which persuades us that we are there, at that moment, hungry to know what happens next. It is the making of our English world, and who can fail to be stirred by it?' Helen Dunmore
'With her brilliant new book, Hilary Mantel has not just written a rich, absorbingly readable historical novel; she has made a significant shift in the way any of her readers interested in English history will henceforward think about Thomas Cromwell! There is historical truth and there is imaginative truth. Hilary Mantel, who has never written better than in this book, respects both.' Anne Chisholm, The Spectator
'A fine new novel.' Harpers Bazaar
'Superb new novel! A second volume is apparently planned; I await it with all the serenity of Henry VIII outside Anne Boleyn's bedroom door.' Book of The Week 5/6 stars Nina Caplan, Time Out
'The novel becomes a play, becomes a gallery, conscious of its own framing devices, and is all the richer for being a historiographical as well as a historical novel.' Michael Caines, TLS
Hilary Mantel is one of our most important living writers. She is the author of eleven books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Giving Up the Ghostand; Beyond Black , which was shortlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize.