‘Wolf Hall’ presents a period of English History from 1500 till 1535 through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. The last time that I encountered Thomas Cromwell in a novel was in ‘The Crown’ by Nancy Bilyeau and there he was a nasty man putting monks and nuns out on the street and closing monasteries. In this book he’s quite a nice guy who went from being a complete nobody (runaway son of a blacksmith) to being one of the most influential men in England through sheer hard work, a lot of luck and only a bit of ruthlessness. Anyway, his real history is a bit sketchy, so an author has the scope to turn him into any character that he/she wants. For my own curiosity, Oliver Cromwell is actually descendant from one of Thomas Cromwell’s sisters.
The real Wolf Hall was the home of the Seymour family, so I was waiting to hear more about Jane Seymour. She actually gets very little mention and at the end of the book Anne Boleyn is still queen. Though by that stage I was pretty keen to see the end of her (and so were many of the characters in the book).
I found the book very hard going and it seemed to take an eternity to read. Part of the problem was that every second person in that era seemed to be called Thomas, so I had trouble keeping track of which Thomas was doing what and I had to keep re-reading parts to work out what was going on.
I still found the book extremely enjoyable. I love it when a writer can bring history to life through interesting characters. And, I particularly love reading about the history of the church, This book certainly satisfied those loves for me!
Make sure you set aside plenty of time to read this book – it’s not one to be rushed. I’ll certainly be setting aside a big block of time when I read ‘Bring Up the Bodies’.
Book Published 2009