itt WOLF HALL the book by hilary mantel and the upcoming hbo/bbc miniseries based on the same

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really dug this book, thought there was a thread about it, guess not, anyway, excited for this

max, Friday, 18 November 2011 16:17 (ten years ago) link

im intrigued, tell me more

the jazz zinger (s1ocki), Friday, 18 November 2011 16:20 (ten years ago) link

The book jacket featured at the link is a total mess.

calumerio, Friday, 18 November 2011 16:26 (ten years ago) link

*loses interest*

the jazz zinger (s1ocki), Friday, 18 November 2011 16:27 (ten years ago) link

really good historical fiction about thomas cromwell

max, Friday, 18 November 2011 16:51 (ten years ago) link

done right would be like the tudors but good

max, Friday, 18 November 2011 16:53 (ten years ago) link

whoa. the book is fantastic (place of greater safety, about the terror in paris, is also good but not nearly as good as wolf hall). i am stoked for the sequel but mantel has been very ill and in and out of hospital for quite some time. i didn't realize it actually had a publication date set.

the main character is a total fantasy - brilliant, world-wise, badass, a family man, and happens to be completely enlightened vis-a-vis the warped values of his society. so this should be huge.

UK cover

Brakhage, Friday, 18 November 2011 18:11 (ten years ago) link

four months pass...

this book kicks ass!

goole, Sunday, 1 April 2012 03:32 (ten years ago) link

man, nothing?

i think the language is really great. really fluid and choppy, and the present tense really jarring; i still am not used to it. the time and scene shifts are very cinematic i think. mantel has a great ear for dialogue.

i looked up most of the principals on wikipedia and now have an idea of who gets the chop. so now the dramatic question as a reader is when the book ends! (is it a spoiler if it happened 500 years ago?)

idk if the main character is a "total fantasy"? i mean the basic details of his climb: "ruffian", soldier, lawyer, trader, adviser, burgess, etc, are all a matter of record. and the early modern/reformation period was full of people with ideas on the "warped values of his society"!

goole, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 21:28 (ten years ago) link

hey man! knew you would dig this, i dont really have anything smart to say about it, but it ruled

max, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 21:31 (ten years ago) link

i only know this history in the most basic outline. uhhh, king wants a divorce, break with rome happens, england gets protestantism but not like super-protestantism, and that's it.

yeah i'm really impressed so far!

took me a bit to get used to one of mantel's stylistic choices: unless very obviously noted as someone else, the pronoun "he" is always Thomas Cromwell.

also i'm realizing that knowing this is going to be an HBO joint has put a certain look of things in my mind.

goole, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 21:42 (ten years ago) link

yeah i had this kind of half-baked notion about the way mantel uses "he" and the rise of the subject, cromwell as first modern man or something, but i dont really remember the book well enough

max, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 21:48 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

i thought this was really fun, i liked how unabashed and romantic it was, am not really looking forward to the tv show tho

Lamp, Saturday, 19 May 2012 15:03 (ten years ago) link

Anyone read the sequel yet? I'm waiting on a copy from interlibrary loan.

Respectfully, Tyrese Gibson (Nicole), Saturday, 19 May 2012 15:19 (ten years ago) link

im about 30 pages into it and so far it seems very much the same

Lamp, Saturday, 19 May 2012 15:22 (ten years ago) link

oh good, i need to pick that up. i started reading WH all over again, cos it took me a while to adjust to the style and keep everyone straight, there's things i didn't pick up on the first time. the dialogue is so much fun, really tight, really revealing.

his son is such a dunce but so amiable and lovable. everything with mary boleyn is so heartbreaking.

there's something going on about motivation, the intersection of desire, the 'inner life' and ideology at the moment of formation -- all that stuff about protestantism and capital was being made during the course of these events. cromwell doesn't seem to know himself. iirc there are moments where he asks why he's doing all this and he doesn't really know, "what else is there but affairs?"

Lamp what do you mean by "unabashed and romantic"?

goole, Saturday, 19 May 2012 15:54 (ten years ago) link

two weeks pass...

this book is incredible

lag∞n, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 14:12 (ten years ago) link

Am reading A Place of Greater Safety, the schtick is v v similar. Still great.

Jesu swept (ledge), Wednesday, 6 June 2012 14:39 (ten years ago) link

this is a cool way to learn abt history

lag∞n, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 14:40 (ten years ago) link

I held onto this book for about a year from the library but couldn't get past the first page -- not that I outright hated it or anything, more just, "Hm, well, maybe later." Then someone just recalled it from me so...maybe later.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 15:24 (ten years ago) link

I'm actually reading APoGS with a book on the french revolution in the other hand, to clarify as i go. It's not essential but it's a pretty big sweep of history, helps to have a bit of background knowledge. Don't think that was so much of a problem with Wolf Hall, sure I occasionally forgot who was who in the vast cast but the main plot was pretty specific & localised.

Jesu swept (ledge), Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:10 (ten years ago) link

lag∞n, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:14 (ten years ago) link

yeah yeah. i wanted more detail. fewer electrons.

Jesu swept (ledge), Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:16 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

ok bring up the bodies is in my possession

lag∞n, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 13:19 (ten years ago) link

gotta finish this

funny-skrillex-bee_132455836669.gif (s1ocki), Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:32 (ten years ago) link

i'm waiting for the new one to go into paperback

goole, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:34 (ten years ago) link

lagxxn tell me how it is

goole, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:34 (ten years ago) link

i wish theyd just put all books in paperback, hardcover is stupid

max, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:36 (ten years ago) link


heated debate over derpy hooves (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:36 (ten years ago) link

ya i cant recall the last time i bought a hardcover but i could not wait

lag∞n, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:56 (ten years ago) link

hardcovers are awesome yr both dummies

Lamp, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:57 (ten years ago) link

but they r so giant and expensive

lag∞n, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:57 (ten years ago) link

impossible to read on the train

max, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:58 (ten years ago) link

impossible to read because the words are so hard

lag∞n, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:59 (ten years ago) link

hardcovers are great except when you move house twice in a month

thomp, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:05 (ten years ago) link

Hardcovers are great for architecture, art, and history books. P much useless for contemporary fiction though.

heated debate over derpy hooves (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:08 (ten years ago) link

that p much makes no sense

Mr. Que, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:09 (ten years ago) link

i like reading them on the train! paperbacks are too flimsy or perhaps i am just careless and rough but i like the reassuring weight of a hardcover novel in my bag as well, they are less fun to take on planes tho, too big.

i think 'bringing up the bodies' was really good but i always like the parts in stories where the hero has everything going p smoothly and is coming out on top and you can feel the sympathetic flush of success the defining sequence of the book i think is cromwell at home over christmas endlessly cajoling, directing, scheming, joking moving all these people into place with tireless good humor ceding his dead daughters wings to some other little girl, waiting

Lamp, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:10 (ten years ago) link

man i can't wait

goole, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:12 (ten years ago) link

the dialogue is just amazing in the first one. all his conversations with his sweet, dim (but not too dim) son are so funny and awkward

goole, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:14 (ten years ago) link

hardcovers of popular books very cheap thru' Amazon 2nd hand, got almost pristine Wolf Hall recently for <£3, will maybe read it come holiday.

woof, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:14 (ten years ago) link

that p much makes no sense

Why not? I like hardcover books when they have lots of gorgeous pictures to look at and are typically formatted larger, I don't think they are necessary for most fiction. But thats just my personal preference. FWIW, 98% of the fiction I read it in eBook format anyway.

heated debate over derpy hooves (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:17 (ten years ago) link


Lamp, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:28 (ten years ago) link

i think 'bringing up the bodies' was really good but i always like the parts in stories where the hero has everything going p smoothly and is coming out on top and you can feel the sympathetic flush of success

― Lamp, Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:10 AM (10 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

lol when more and gardiner where simultaneously marginalized i was so happy for him

lag∞n, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:30 (ten years ago) link

i had a few physical correspondences that i couldn't shake

cromwell: al swearingen
anne: sasha grey
henry: tim tebow (older)

goole, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:31 (ten years ago) link

lmao oh no

lag∞n, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:32 (ten years ago) link

yeah i know

goole, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:33 (ten years ago) link

ahhhhhhh hahahahaha

max, Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:37 (ten years ago) link

new one seem to be written in a somewhat simpler lighter mode, maybe to reflect cromwells ascension, or maybe by accident, or maybe im imagining it, anyway im gonna miss this guy when there are no more books left

lag∞n, Monday, 30 July 2012 16:35 (ten years ago) link

and so much ringing the changes on the same organising metaphors: mirrors; lights; books; cats--perhaps Mantel is playing the same kind of game as Javier Marias or, on a very different level, Karl Ove Knausgaard. Or perhaps it's just lazy! I'm honestly not sure.

When the light goes out, so to speak, it's heartbreaking, particularly in the light of the last epigram attached to the text, and the bit of Wyatt serving as an alternative to it, in the last couple of pages.

Anyway. Here's some books and a mirror:

Her visit marks her place in the book of his life -- a book which falls back into loose leaves. Printers can read as if through a mirror. It is their trade. Their fingers are nimble and their eye keen. But examine any book and you will see that some characters are upside down, some transposed.

Later, Cromwell is looking at a history in which the dates for events before Christ's birth are printed, deliberately, upside-down.

And somewhat later, but before everything collapses:

Can you make a new England? You can write a new story. You can write new texts and destroy the old ones, set the torn leaves of Duns Scotus sailing about the quadrangles, and place the gospels in every church. You can write on England, but what was written before keeps showing through, inscribed on the rocks and carried on floodwater, surfacing from the deep cold wells. It's not just the saints and martyrs who claim the country, it's those who came before them: the dwarves dug into ditches, the sprites who sing on the breeze, the demons bricked into culverts and buried under bridges; the bones under your floor. You cannot tax them or count them. They have lasted ten thousand years and ten thousand before that. They are not easily dispossessed by farmers with fresh leases and law clerks who adduce proof of title. They bubble out of the ground, wear away the shoreline, sow weeds among the crops and erode the workings of mines.

And later:

The king wonders aloud, what shall we do when knights of the Garter are found to be traitors--men like Nicholas Carew? Certainly their names should be stricken from the volumes that contain the history of the order. But will that not mar the beauty of the pages?

The decision is that the disgraced name should remain. But the words 'VAH! PRODITUR' should be written in the margin, so the man is branded for ever.

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 10 April 2020 08:04 (two years ago) link

The end very much wrecked me, too - proper heaving sobs. I'm a sentimental fucker and these are tough times but still.

Agreed on the metaphors. I feel like I'm missing something with the cat in the tree and the leopard.

Also, give me five minutes in a room with Gardiner. Just five.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 10 April 2020 09:00 (two years ago) link

i tried to watch the series and i couldn't get over my immediate conception that the director had 'the thick of it' in the back of their head throughout

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Saturday, 11 April 2020 00:37 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

got M&L for wobs as requested, already 74 pages in lol (turned bedside reading light off at 3)

i: love love love being back in this world, a matter of HM's tone and flow as much as the actual story i think (since i find it calming despite the matter being distressing) (sometimes i have trhe show on in the background while i read bcz its music now has the same effect)
ii: not rereading the thread yet -- the main upcoming events of course arrive some 600 yrs pre-spoilered obv but still i want to toy with it all at my own speed as it arrive
iii: already i've run across several speech-things that book-cromwell has in his armoury that i now hear entirely in a rylance-cadence (so it's entertaining when TC self-describes and it's the holbein-depicted body, squat and bulky, not MR'S = small and slight)
iv: noting production-wise that some material in the show so far is from *this* book early on not the last one: i'm guessing HR isn't copying from script to future book GRRMartin-style so the TV ppl presumably had sight of versions of M&L long pre-pub? (i mean i know it;s based on a historical tale but these are micro-details not in the history books)

mark s, Saturday, 26 December 2020 11:50 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

entirely predictably i am reading them all from the beginning again (3/4s thru WH again, once again picking up a lot that i missed, so much is foreshadowed from the start)

confusing to spot jane seymour in the episode of peaky blinders i watched on wed

mark s, Friday, 30 April 2021 20:56 (one year ago) link

re-read of wolf hall itself nearly complete

this is my third time through it and it's actively to me curious how different it feels this time (i think i noterd above that my very first read was largely a stress-distraction read… but the second wasn't!)

for example how much of TC's stream of consciousness is subtly horny fascination with women who end up other ppl's wives lol (jane seymour and mary boleyn the most obvious, but the lowborn viz rafe's future wife also, ellen or helen barre, and two or maybe even three others of less note) (ie i dont remember their names)

plus the penumbra of gossip set around this fact -- which is arguably one of the things that eventually undoes him (his supposed eye on princess mary, or hers on him). builds up also to the funny confusion-plotline abt the woman who becomes gregory's wife = jane seymour's sister (who for a couple of pages in tM&tL belives TC is proposing to her)

plenty of nudging already at mirrors and lights, especially the latter -- have to assume this had already formed in HM's head as a shaping metaphor (not that i quite understand it) -- plus also the curious vehemence whenever the jester sexton aka patch is on-stage, cromwell HAAAAAATES him lol, and keeps bumrushing him angrily (and then like half a book later patch is back and TC is saying "what the hell is HE doing here?")

(this hatred is explicable in story-terms, in that patch once work for for wolsey and chose to mock his former employer once he was part of the king's staff, but it's also very extra and in no sense plot-driving: i'm going to argue that the low-born patch who is allowed to say anything acts as a MIRROR for cromwell, throwing unwanted LIGHT on his own self-disgust blah blah… )

mark s, Saturday, 8 May 2021 13:29 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

finally reading The Mirror & The Light
srsly, just inject this prose into my veins i love it it makes me feel slightly giddy & dreamy.
is that weird?

still wild to me that she can make me feel remotely sympathetic towards Mary or even fkn Henry at times, such is the power of fiction

also the FOOD and TEXTILES in this series my god

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 2 September 2021 04:15 (one year ago) link

(i just finished rereading tM&tL and have a low-key query: has it anywhere been discussed -- or has HM talked abt -- that she plainly devoured thomas harris at some point and certain very identifiable bits re-emerge = wound man, a version of the memory palace, plus also some less easily identifiable moves and tropes now and then)

the notion that TC is in reality the hannibal of the tudors is quite funny to me

mark s, Thursday, 2 September 2021 10:40 (one year ago) link

i googled this and found a review of "bring up the bodies" which explicitly argues that her love of the historically horrible thomas cromwell is exactly like our love of the finctionaly evil hannibal lecter -- and it was in the evening standard so she very likely also saw it, and (in my theory) went off to read hannibal and clearly liked some of what she read

(i actually think the ES review is dumb but that's not really the point here)

mark s, Thursday, 2 September 2021 10:45 (one year ago) link

Heh, confounded TC and ES into EC and thought I was back onto another Elvis Costello thread.

Gwar ina Babyon (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 September 2021 11:13 (one year ago) link

Surely somewhere in his enormous corpus he has mentioned Cromwell and/or Lecter at least once perhaps in one of his party/list songs.

Gwar ina Babyon (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 September 2021 11:17 (one year ago) link

a version of the memory palace

This is not exclusive to harris, cf. john crowley's 'little, big' and the aegypt books where it gets traced back to Giordano Bruno, he and it have also cropped up in other things I've read recently that I can't recall (oh the irony). Harris I daresay the most famous though.

Believe me, grow a lemon tree. (ledge), Thursday, 2 September 2021 11:33 (one year ago) link

Pretty sure it's from Cicero

Robert Cray-Cray (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 2 September 2021 11:48 (one year ago) link

I started WH some weeks ago and have read two books in between since. I need some headspace, I think.

kinder, Thursday, 2 September 2021 12:24 (one year ago) link

it's not exclusive to harris no -- i learnt it as "kim's game" from my dad when i was little, so named bcz there's a v basic version in kipling's kim -- but the idea that it's viscerally pertinent to the building of character is more how i responded here (in kim it's just a handy technique that a spy can deploy)

mark s, Thursday, 2 September 2021 12:58 (one year ago) link

Mantel's prose style is what turns me off reading these; I've tried many times. It's frustrating! People seem to really enjoy them but I must grudgingly say it is Not For Me. I find myself unable to sink into the story because the sentences draw so much attention to themselves. Feature not bug, perhaps?

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 2 September 2021 14:09 (one year ago) link

I find her a great writer.

the pinefox, Thursday, 2 September 2021 14:16 (one year ago) link

(i just started a place of greater safety., meeting robespierre etc as children, camille desmoulin is a cheeky sod in this reading)

mark s, Thursday, 2 September 2021 14:28 (one year ago) link

Greater Safety is beautiful

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Thursday, 2 September 2021 15:56 (one year ago) link


to be fair, it did take me a while to start Mirror & the Light — every time I picked it up it felt too dense for what my brain could handle at the time

but I had recently been watching stuff about Mary 1 and other Tudory things & that helped get me in the right frame of kind

so i do understand if it feels like its too much

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 2 September 2021 16:23 (one year ago) link


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 2 September 2021 16:23 (one year ago) link

The only one that's really stuck with me was Wolf Hall. Bring Up The Bodies felt too short, and The Mirror & The Light too long. Need to re-read all three one of these years.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 2 September 2021 16:26 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

Watching now. Need to read the books to see how they handle Cromwell's stubborn silences, according to the show his favorite weapon.

lukas, Friday, 14 January 2022 02:48 (eight months ago) link

eight months pass...

We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald. This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.

— 4th Estate Books (@4thEstateBooks) September 23, 2022

xyzzzz__, Friday, 23 September 2022 10:37 (one week ago) link

One of the greatest British authors of our time.

70 is not old nowadays. But I'm not so surprised because her terrific memoir makes clear how bad her health has been, or at least was, for several decades.

I reflect that she will be celebrated and lamented, but not nearly as much as the late Queen; but that she was much more talented than the late Queen, and put her great talent and intelligence into numerous books, sometimes very long ones, with great productivity and dedication.

the pinefox, Friday, 23 September 2022 12:22 (one week ago) link

I read Wolf Hall and was quite captivated by it at the time, but never found the time to read the follow up or any of her other books. I thought the bbc adaptation was the best drama series they've done for decades and have watched it at least 4 or 5 times. Her style wasn't really my thing and I didn't like her takes on history when she popped on R4 programs occasionally. But still I'd be very happy if there was a tv adaptation of The Mirror & the Light that is as good as WH.

calzino, Friday, 23 September 2022 13:25 (one week ago) link

oh I've just heard the WH director saying he is currently working on a production of The Mirror & the Light for the bbc.

calzino, Friday, 23 September 2022 16:47 (one week ago) link

Would I get more out of Wolf Hall if I read a Very Short Introduction-type book beforehand? It’s been on my to-read list for ages, but I once started A Place of Greater Safety and felt like I needed a bit more grounding in the French Revolution to really appreciate it. And if the answer is “yes", any recommendations?

blatherskite, Friday, 23 September 2022 20:39 (one week ago) link

Others will disagree, but a passing knowledge of the Tudors is fine, I think. What she does with Cromwell is so immersive that, as much as she's clearly in love with the source material, it kind of renders the histories irrelevant.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 23 September 2022 21:00 (one week ago) link

What are her best non-WH books? I've read the whole trilogy but felt it was kind of a sharp decline — the first was amazing and perfect, but the second was too short and the third was too long and abandoned the narrative discipline that made the first two work.

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 23 September 2022 21:01 (one week ago) link

I can't really process that Mantel has gone. This is daftly romantic, but she never seemed quite alive in some way, at least not in the way that the rest of us are alive. I need to work out what I mean by that, but somehow her presence and acuity were always otherworldly (this isn't to disrespect Giving Up the Ghost, which is wholly and brutally alive, but that book stands outside everything she's written).

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 23 September 2022 21:06 (one week ago) link

Loved A Place of Greater Safety - I can see feeling the need for more background with the Revolution because it's kind of like a movie with no establishing shots, she just throws you from room to room over the course of years but that was part of my appreciation.

Lots of gems in the collection of short stories I read (w/ The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher - maybe that was the collection title too).

papal hotwife (milo z), Friday, 23 September 2022 21:11 (one week ago) link

I've read the whole trilogy but felt it was kind of a sharp decline — the first was amazing and perfect, but the second was too short and the third was too long and abandoned the narrative discipline that made the first two work.

I agree that WH was perfect but disagree that the trilogy declined. I love Beyond Black, but it is baggy. The autobiography is fantastic. I still haven't read APOGS because I am lazy and scared of it.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 23 September 2022 21:12 (one week ago) link

many xposts to blatherskite

i think Chinaski is otm about Wolf Hall being immersive, you don’t really need a deep knowledge of Tudors aside from Hank 8 is the king, the book really gives you a lot of the context

i mean, i knew so little about the Tudors & English history in general that i spent half the book thinking Thomas Cromwell was OLIVER cromwell bc it was the only Cromwell i’d heard of lol

so so sad about Hilary’s passing. such a beautiful writer, never enjoy historical fiction more than in her hands.Kinda ruins you for other writers in the genre.

Good excuse to explore the rest of her catalog, have only read the Wolf Hall trilogy & A Place Of Greater Safety so far

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 23 September 2022 22:26 (one week ago) link

What are her best non-WH books?

Beyond Black is amazing. Absolutely nothing like the Cromwell books either

Number None, Sunday, 25 September 2022 08:17 (one week ago) link

Can't wait to dig in.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 25 September 2022 09:34 (one week ago) link

I thought the prose in Wolf Hall was great. Stood out as such at the time to me. I have picked up a number of others by her which have got as far as to my to-be-read pile.

Stevolende, Sunday, 25 September 2022 11:17 (one week ago) link

I’ve only read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, but I thought they were extraordinary. As a writer I can’t even think of who to compare her to, and those books at least she has this fully formed style that is completely modern but integrates fluently with this reimagined, deeply researched 16th century world. The knowing tone, the currents of sardonic humor, it’s a really singular voice.

otm. her writing has such a light touch in terms of reading but there’s so much craft in it, really a delight to read

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 25 September 2022 14:30 (one week ago) link

wow, can't wait. Thanks, all.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 25 September 2022 14:38 (one week ago) link

place of greater safety is a fever dream, in the best way, and the blistering pace once it gets to the actual revolution is thrilling. i maybe could’ve used more knowledge of the revolution, especially since the novel focuses so tightly on paris and doesn’t dwell on the geopolitical ramifications, but i honestly preferred reading the book then going down a wiki wormhole with mantel’s characterizations in mind

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Sunday, 25 September 2022 15:51 (one week ago) link

Maybe I'll make that my next Mantel read — the third in the Cromwell series doesn't really appeal to me, from what I've read. The first two were so good that I kind of don't want to spoil them by reading what may be a lesser or unnecessary iteration.

i didn't find the mirror and the light to be a let-down, except in the unavoidable sense that the central character -- whose consciousness is the making of the world and the feel of the world, its intelligence, its drive -- is at the close of this book decisively unmade, and the shadow of this, which is not exactly a surprise to anyone as a reader, colours yr response to his decisions throughout: yr watching someone whose joy was a control he'd entirely earned for himself (while surrounded by those who have it handed to them), and yr pleasure in being with him was also this control of course, and yet here you know from the outset that he no longer has it and is actually making bad choices… so there's an ill-fashioned feel where this wasn't so before. he seems doughy and fallible and you don't like him so much like that (so you like the book less)

soes she handle this change of mode as well as she might? i'd like to see the argument that she doesn't, as opposed to ppl simply projecting their disappointment in the inevitable shape of the plot onto the judgments abt its quality -- it is after all the tale of a colossal political defeat which the mind we're in (i mean crom not mantel) wants us to believe is undeserved, and that feels bad!

(but it doesn't mean the book is bad)

also i want someone to explain the mirror and the light as a metaphor: it's kind of spelled out a couple of times but i still don't really get it

mark s, Sunday, 25 September 2022 16:51 (one week ago) link

it in no sense spoils the earlier books, though some of the stories in them are retold or otherwise complicated (we also learn more abt TC's youth and abt italy)

mark s, Sunday, 25 September 2022 16:59 (one week ago) link

yeah you are otm re cromwell’s loss of control in mirror & light makes him less appealing + book less so as a byproduct— it took me a long time to finish that one but i could never put my finger on why

a place of greater safety is great but def less immersive at first compared to wolfhall - it took me longer to grasp the context & who’s and and where’s of it all but once shit pops off it’s great

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 25 September 2022 18:02 (one week ago) link

I read somewhere that Mantel had the final scene first and she worked everything backwards from there. I think in the early books, Cromwell clearly gets away from her, in the best of ways, but the closer she gets to the final scene, the less Mantel is able to avoid the inevitable. The writing inevitably becomes more cramped; Cromwell seems to vibrate on the page rather than leap out of it or bestride it the way he does in the early parts of the trilogy. That emotional teleology is what colours the books as they tumble toward the inevitable.

I've never been entirely sure about the mirror and the light. It seems to function as a free-floating metaphor for a bunch of things - not least the writing process.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Monday, 26 September 2022 17:07 (six days ago) link

I bought A Place of Greater Safety yesterday at the bookshop and checked Fludd out of the library this morning. May go with the 174-page novel first.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 26 September 2022 17:13 (six days ago) link

as an index of HM's self-discipline it's worth reading up on where the secondary characters in the wolf hall trilogy end up (norfolk or wriothesley or TC's son): which she well knows but obviously cromwell can't (he's as haunted as any mantel character, but not by his posthumous future) -- anyway there's dozens of ironies and foreshadowings she could have played with, perhaps to mitigate the sense of suffocating doom, imagined glimpses of ways out -- but she just doesn't, which has to be a choice

meanwhile im rewatching the TV show like a boss

mark s, Tuesday, 27 September 2022 18:47 (five days ago) link

Cromwell is haunted by his inevitable demise though isn't he - even if it's unconscious? He knows that his role means death at some point, no matter how confident he seems. Perhaps the choice was to not present him as weak in this regard? I need to re-read but I sense there must be dreams and visions that hint at escape.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Tuesday, 27 September 2022 19:36 (five days ago) link

the text is here and there haunted by the text of the moments of the demise (to be non-spoilery abt it) (and obscure lol) so maybe in that sense; my memory of his dreams and visions is that he's more shut into them than not but i'd also have to reread to be sure

mark s, Tuesday, 27 September 2022 19:50 (five days ago) link

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