Monday, 21 June 2010

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book proved to me - much to my surprise - that it is possible to write a historical novel in the present tense without it becoming unreadable. The quality of the writing probably had something to do with it, but after struggling a little bit at the start I was drawn in.

Thomas Cromwell may seem an unlikely hero. He's almost invariably the deep-dyed villain of any novel in the era so it's a pleasant change to see things from his POV and he comes across as a very sympathetic character. In fact he seems to go out of his way to accommodate people. Thomas More, for example, gets thrown lifeline after lifeline, which of course he rejects.

It is sometimes just a little hard to work out who is speaking. There's a lot of conversation in this, and the author likes her personal pronouns. 'He' is however, not always Thomas Cromwell in these exchanges.

One oddity - it's stated that Elizabeth Woodville gave Edward IV a (remote) claim to Castile. News to me. It may be true, but if so it was vastly inferior to his own claim, which he made in heraldry from the start of his reign. (See the Edward IV Roll for proof). La Woodville had many qualities, but claims to thrones was not one of 'em.

This apart no historical issues jumped out of me, and the author juggled a very large cast of characters with great success. Having said all that, I still don't like present tense for HF and beg and plead with all authors out there to refuse to use it!!!

I do recommend the book, and I don't think it's a hard read. In fact, if it's classed as a literary novel, which it seems to be, it's a lot more accessible than most of that genre.

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Monday, 14 June 2010

Not how the Despensers lived

Sometimes one finds something on the internet that's so amazing it just has to be shared. One such is this: Folklore Essay

It's certainly news to me that Humphrey Duke of Gloucester was murdered by Henry V.

I'm also a bit puzzled as to how a man born in 1390 could have a son also born in 1390. I know they started early in the middle ages, but that is going some.