Wolf Hall Trilogy Readalong Master Post

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?


21 thoughts on “Wolf Hall Trilogy Readalong Master Post

  1. I continue to have the best of intentions, but my library has just coughed up a couple of longish books I’ve been waiting for, so I may be a little slow out of the gate…but I am looking forward to this!


  2. With Perth in lockdown I have no access to libraries. If I get work this week I’ll have to fall back on my Audible books (I buy all the long ones so I get value for money). But as soon as I can I’ll borrow Wolf Hall again so I can comment on your post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lockdown is ok. Shoppers went mad the first day but I stayed home. Bushfires are about 20km away on the north eastern outskirts of Perth. Lots of smoke, my eyes have been stinging all day.


        1. I hope the fires stay 20km away from you Bill. After our summer last year, I can sympathise with the stinging eyes, dry cough and sense of breathlessness when the smoke is so dense. At least you have a few good books to keep you safe inside.


  3. Might join you for the Mirror and the Light in May. I loved the two first books, and am still to read the last one.


  4. I’ve also got the Australian Open on 🙂 , but can’t decide whether or not to get the 3rd book in the trilogy – I “did” the Tudors for history A-level and usually love reading Tudor-related historical fiction, but I just didn’t get all the fuss over Wolf Hall. However, I’ve read the first two, so I’ll probably succumb at some point!


    1. For me, a big part of the fuss, was the rehabilitation of Cromwell’s character. I grew up with the history that told us he was nothing but a criminal mastermind that manipulated Henry and his wives for his own benefit/power.
      Mantel shows us his human side, a man doing what he had do to keep his own head on his shoulders and that Henry (and most of the wives) were just as conniving about getting their own way as anybody else at court.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That paperback of The Mirror and The Light is going to be a monster size book. The hardback is huge but in paperback the smaller size page will make it even thicker. I got my hardback copy when it came out in Feb last year – fortunately timing it to my very last visit to a bookshop before lockdown. It took me months to read but it was absolutely wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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