Wolf Hall: A Novel

Front Cover
Macmillan, Oct 13, 2009 - Fiction - 560 pages
327 Reviews

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king's freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Brilliant detail, wonderful characterization. - LibraryThing
The writing style did cause me some problems. - LibraryThing
And her prose borders on poetic. - LibraryThing
I struggled with the writing, as well. - LibraryThing
Very clever insight into the politics of manipulation. - LibraryThing
... really enjoyed the ending. - LibraryThing

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - joeydag - LibraryThing

Fascinating experience. "Words, words, just words." The style struck me as almost Shakespearean in that the people are so mysteriously multi-faced. Class issues abound. The struggle for clarity and for masking the truth. I will be looking for the follow-up novel at the library. Read full review


User Review  - browneyed girl - Tesco

I bought 2 copies of this book for my daughter and myself. We'd both watched the television series but thought the book was much better - Hilary Mantel's mix of historical facts and fiction bought the period to life. I also bought the sequel Bring Up The Bodies which was equally as good. Read full review

All 10 reviews »



Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Hilary Mantel is the author of Wolf Hall, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An Experiment in Love, The Giant, O'Brien, Fludd, Every Day Is Mother's Day, Vacant Possession, and Beyond Black, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She has also written a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. Winner of the Hawthornden Prize, she reviews for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. She lives in England.

Bibliographic information