The Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall Readalong runs from the 1st Feb until the 31st May 2021.
I first read Wolf Hall in 2011.
I remember that I took it our summer holiday to the beach. After exhausting ourselves in the waves every morning, I would look forward to an hour or so every afternoon, lying in the cool of our bedroom reading Wolf Hall, while the boys relaxed in front of TV with the Australian Open.
It wasn’t an easy to read to start with, but it was a very satisfying read by the end. Once I got used to the ‘He, Cromwell’ device (that often made it hard to know whether Cromwell was talking or just thinking) I found it fascinating how Mantel turned the history books on their heads, by making Cromwell a sympathetic character. A man that I came to respect, and even love. A man, who did what he had to do in that society, to keep his own head on his shoulders for as long as possible!
My reread of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies is timed for the publication of the paperback edition of The Mirror and the Light in March. Covid has delayed the due dates for so many books in the past year, that I’m giving myself some leeway in case that happens here too.
- February – Wolf Hall (reread)
- March – Bring Up the Bodies (reread)
- May – The Mirror and the Light
The April interlude is in case I fall behind for any reason. I don’t want to feel stressed or pushed for time. This will be a leisurely return to Tudor England, not a race.
A check-in post will be published at the beginning of each month, with the review posts to appear as I write them!
I have also given myself a little treat. The Wolf Hall Companion by Lauren Mackay (2020) has turned up in time to join the party. It’s a lovely hardback edition that was designed to be an:
accessible but hugely authoritative companion to the bestselling Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel, published in time for the third and final book in paperback.
The real story of Thomas Cromwell, it also works as a concise Tudor history primer, covering the key court and political characters from the books, Thomas Cromwell to Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cranmer to Jane Seymour, Henry VIII to Thomas Howard, and Cardinal Wolsey to Richard Fox. The important places in the court of Henry VIII are covered, including Hampton Court, Tower of London, Cromwell’s home Austin Friars, and of course Wolf Hall. The author reveals not only the real and full history of these people and places but also Hilary Mantel’s interpretation. Family trees, plans of Tower of London and beautiful woodcut portraits are included.
In addition to the history of people and places are incisive features on various aspects of Tudor life, from the court scene, the structure of government, royal hunting and hawking, rules of courtly love, Renaissance influences, Tudor executions.
A beautiful and insightful book that enriches the reading of the Mantel novels but also provides the most incisive and concise understanding of the reign of Henry VIII, and the profound changes it brought to English life.
Thanks to Covid, this year’s Australian Open has been delayed until the 8th – 21st February, so once again, I will be reading Wolf Hall with the tennis playing in the background.
Will you be joining me?