Wolf Hall Readalong Post 2

Saturday, December 10, 2011

{Spoilers follow}

This second post for the Wolf Hall Read-along covers parts 3 and 4. Here is what has happened since I last posted: 

Politically: Cardinal Wolsey is more or less deposed and dies. While Wolsey is falling, Cromwell is rising. He never for a moment has a negative word to say about his Cardinal, but while he is away, Cromwell develops uneasy friendships with Anne Boleyn, her sister, Mary, the Duke of Norfolk (the leader of the Boleyn clan, Thomas Howard), and, finally, the King himself. He makes himself more or less indispensable for soothing fluttered feelings and making things happen. He ends up being instrumental in bringing Anne Boleyn to the position of Queen of England. There are also dealings with Thomas More, who replaces the Cardinal as Lord Chancellor of England, and who occupies himself by burning anyone and everyone who supports Tyndale. Tyndale is quite a hero to me, in my limited knowledge of him, so this is a really interesting perspective for me. 

Personally: Cromwell loses more family members and his nephew Richard becomes like a son to him. He also has an affair with Johane, his deceased wife's sister, which is interesting in that it mirrors the King's life to some extent as Katherine was the wife of his dead brother. The relationship doesn't last, making things awkward at home. 

As for me, I am enjoying Wolf Hall more and more all the time. It is definitely slow going; it takes me a few minutes to finish two pages, and this is a beastly old tome so I haven't been doing much reading aside from this. I also occasionally slip up on the use of "he" for Cromwell and will spend a page thinking one man has made a statement when it is really another. 

However, I love the development of Cromwell. I love the way his personality is pervasive, the way his interests are driven by himself and his family, his ability to warp a situation to his needs. I love the way he can go boldly into extremely tense, awkward situations and come out on top. I also love Mantel's unique ways of spinning a phrase, driving its meaning into my mind because of the way the words are strung together, making the images slightly different for me even if I have had them displayed to me before. 

I'm sure I will have much more to say when everything comes together as a whole, so I will just finish by saying that I am loving the richness of this story. It is worth the slow unraveling and at times difficult structure. I am looking forward to seeing how everything plays out in the end, and I am feeling quite grateful that I didn't give in to the temptation to wikipedia Mr. Thomas Cromwell so I could get a grip on what is going on. 


  1. Good move to not Wikiipedia anything; I couldn't restrain myself, however! I also really started to get even more into it this week and I'm unable to read anything else either. I've got to continue to maintain my focus with the book so I'm not confused. There were several passage that I felt sure I knew who was talking, but then something would pop up that jolted me into understanding that someone else was actually speaking. I do a lot of flipping back and forth to make sure I'm not missing anything.

    I'm not as knowledgeable about Tyndale so it is something I'll likely research this week as well.

    As I mentioned last week, thanks so much for joining the readalong and I'm happy that we can meet up once a week to discuss our thoughts!

  2. What an excellent review! Your thoughts are much more organized than mine, but I seond everything you say. Except that I sucumbed to Wikipedia temptation all around (for every main character and some of the minor ones). I'm think this is a book that will resonate long after I finish reading it, but at times it is simply a *beastly tome*...

  3. @Coffee and a Book Chick and Bibliophiliac -- I totally succumbed to wikipedia this week. It definitely gave some more insight into what happens in the future.


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