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SilverStormm

Book One: Wolf Hall

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I started reading the book in anticipation of this series.  I'm not that far into it yet, and I know books often take time to build up, but so far, I'm not impressed.  I was expecting to be amazed, considering this book won all these awards.  There's too much talking.  Of course two characters talking is going to comprise parts of any book, but there is entirely too much of it so far.  

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Interesting. The book's dialogue is part of what hooked me, and I've been happy to see much of the show dialogue coming verbatim.

For what it's worth, it seems to be a "love it or hate it" thing, and a lot of people were angry it won the Man Booker prize. A lot of people can't stand the very things I love about the way she writes.

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I'm now nearly a third in, and unfortunately I think I am firmly on the side of "hate it".  The writing style is extremely wordy and convoluted, and many times I can't even tell who is being talked about because of the constant use of the pronoun "he" instead of the character's name.  It's utterly confusing and a bit irritating.  I am finding it slow and tedious.

 

I hate giving up on books, but this one is really trying my patience.  The only thing keeping me with it is my love for English history, especially the Tudors.

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Its been a while since I've read them and I think I liked them but didn't love them.  The thing I found a bit bizarre in that she won all the awards for the books when I think they weren't that amazing because Jean Plaidy had already written the same story but so much better.  Of course, she didn't write about Cromwell like these books did but she wrote about the Tudor Court in many books.  I just found Jean Plaidy's books so much enjoyable to read - its how I know so much about British royalty.

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Interesting. The book's dialogue is part of what hooked me, and I've been happy to see much of the show dialogue coming verbatim.

For what it's worth, it seems to be a "love it or hate it" thing, and a lot of people were angry it won the Man Booker prize. A lot of people can't stand the very things I love about the way she writes.

 

Same with me.  I definitely fell in the "love it" category, and the dialogue really grabbed me.  It's now my favorite historical fiction book, just slightly ahead of Colleen McCullough's The First Man in Rome.

 

I've read Jean Plaidy, and while I enjoyed her books as an introduction, they just didn't have enough depth for me.  That's usually why I go for non-fiction history over fiction, with rare exceptions--this series and Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series being two. 

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I gave up on the book.  This book reminded me a lot of Robert Harris' "An Officer and a Spy", which tells the story of the Dreyfus Affair.  My issues with that book were similar to the ones I had with "Wolf Hall".  Too many characters, not enough actual action, too many conversations between characters discussing things that happened that replaced the actual action, slow and confusing and boring.  Somehow I made it to the end of "An Officer and a Spy", but sadly, it won't be the case with "Wolf Hall".

 

It's been years since I quit a book, and I hate the feeling of being defeated by it.  I will have to just watch the show and hope I find it a lot better than the book.

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I'm struggling to finish the book. Partly because of the story but mostly how it's written.

I read that Bring Up the Bodies is the better of the two books. I was hoping I'd get used to Mantel's writing style before diving into book #2 but it's not looking good.

One thing I appreciate is how it includes bits of information about Plantagenet (York) family members. I've always wondered how Henry VIII felt towards his mother, grandather (Edward IV), grandmother (Elizabeth Woodville), etc.

Henry's father obviously villianized the Plantagenets, especially Richard III. But in all my research I couldn't find anyone Henry VIII resembled more than his grandfather, Edward IV. I often wonder why Henry chose to name his son Edward. I'm sure it had nothing to do with his grandfather but it's nice to think about.

I'm not a fan of Tudor propoganda or revisionist history.

As someone who watched The Tudors (I know), it's odd to read Thomas More as a villain. Perhaps I should stop envisioning Jeremy Northam's More.

Edited by turbogirlnyc
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Interesting. The book's dialogue is part of what hooked me, and I've been happy to see much of the show dialogue coming verbatim.

 

 

Same here.

 

Its been a while since I've read them and I think I liked them but didn't love them.

 

 

I didn't love Wolf Hall, I liked it and admired it, but I adored Bring Up The Bodies, it may have to do with the culmination of the Anne Boleyn story.  I get all my Plantagenet/Tudor education from Alison Weir, she writes non-fiction like fiction, it's scholarly yet totally engrossing.  Her biography of Eleanor of Aquitane is still my favorite biography.

 

There are excerpts from Bring Up The Bodies that I re-read frequently, especially Cromwell's interrogation of George Boleyn.

Edited by sugarbaker design
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After watching the series (and being captivated by it,) I decided to read both books.  I really loved them, I adore her writing style and enjoyed the atmosphere very much (I can't wait for the next book to be released!)  I did have to skip over the parts with Cromwell vs More, since much of that was covered verbatim in the show.  It's the other details about Cromwell's life and the side characters that pull me in more then seeing another version of the downfall of More or Boelyn. I've grown very invested in her portrait of Cromwell as this brilliant, charismatic Renaissance man who manages to create such a jovial household (despite the deaths of his wife and daughters) with all of his young students/proteges. 

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I read that Bring Up the Bodies is the better of the two books.

 

I liked Wolf Hall. Mantel is a gorgeous writer. That said, I thought it could have been cut by a third. I also hated the use of "he" rather than Cromwell. It's needlessly arty, and I was puzzled that not a single reviewer called her on it. Then, when Bring Up the Bodies came out and Mantel fixed that problem, reviewers mentioned how relieved they were that the confusing "he" thing had been taken care of. Deep sigh. Why not mention it the first time around? (My cynical side thinks it's because sometimes even the most erudite critic is afraid of looking dumb.)

 

So though I enjoyed and admire Wolf Hall, I loved Bring Up the Bodies. Naturally, it has the same incredibly vivid writing, but it's shorter and leaner. It also has a more streamlined plot. On the political front, Wolf Hall has to explain Cromwell's involvement with Wolsey, and his growing involvement with the king. That splits the focus of the tale. But in Bring Up the Bodies, it's all about his treading lightly with the royals.

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I am reading Wolf Hall at the same time that I'm watching the show, so I really notice that much of the dialogue is lifted straight from the book!  The book has been on my 'to be read' list for a long time because I love all things Tudor, but I wasn't sure how much I would like it because I find the women of that period more interesting than the men, and this is all from Cromwell's point of view.  Also, I don't really like it when books are written in the present tense so it has taken me awhile to 'get into' Mantel's writing style, but now I'm there and it is gorgeous.

 

What I love about a good historical fiction book is when I feel like I am actually lifted from my 2015 life and put into another time period, and this book does that wonderfully.  Both the book and the show transport me to Tudor England with the firelight and candles, clothing and food, the weather and landscape...the horror of losing your family to disease in an instant, the battle of rising above a lowly birth and dealing with the intrigues of court...so well done!  But I also think if I didn't have a pretty good knowledge of Tudor history I would be horribly lost in the cast of characters. I find it hard to keep track of who is who.

Edited by Goshengir1
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I'm now nearly a third in, and unfortunately I think I am firmly on the side of "hate it".  The writing style is extremely wordy and convoluted, and many times I can't even tell who is being talked about because of the constant use of the pronoun "he" instead of the character's name.  It's utterly confusing and a bit irritating.  I am finding it slow and tedious.

 

I hate giving up on books, but this one is really trying my patience.  The only thing keeping me with it is my love for English history, especially the Tudors.

 

Yeah, I'm not really a fan, but I'm interested in the era, so I kept up with it. I mean, it's okay, but I definitely don't LOVE it.

 

It's fantastic compared to "A Place of Greater Safety", which is her book about the French Revolution. That book is just . . . you think this is slow? 700 pages of a book about the French Revolution and she made it seem like nothing happened!

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One thing I appreciate is how it includes bits of information about Plantagenet (York) family members. I've always wondered how Henry VIII felt towards his mother, grandather (Edward IV), grandmother (Elizabeth Woodville), etc.

Henry's father obviously villianized the Plantagenets, especially Richard III. But in all my research I couldn't find anyone Henry VIII resembled more than his grandfather, Edward IV. I often wonder why Henry chose to name his son Edward. I'm sure it had nothing to do with his grandfather but it's nice to think about.

 

You think? I'd be surprised if that had had nothing to do with it. But in any case I read they chose the name because he was born on the feast of St. Edward the Confessor.

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You think? I'd be surprised if that had had nothing to do with it. But in any case I read they chose the name because he was born on the feast of St. Edward the Confessor.

Perhaps he was named Edward for St. Edward and his great grandfather. I've read how much Henry loved his mother, Elizabeth. It's possible she told Henry stories of him and how he was never defeated in battle. Even if some of those victories were part strategy and part luck.

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