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Winner of the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize England, the s Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant Into this atmosphere of distrust and need, comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey s clerk, and later his successor Cromwell is a wholly original man the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half made society, moulding itself with great passion, suffering and courage A great but difficult read The book demands some patient and involved reading atleast for first 100 pages or so to get some grip on the characters and a bit unusual writing style like the incessant use of He to allude to the protagonist of the story I had to frequently consult wiki for some of the words related to the papacy and church on which the context of some of the parts of the book heavily relies Then there is the case of an array of characters which with different titles which keep coming up time to time The character index at the start of the book really helps the reader to sort through the maze of these characters.But all these hurdles lead up to a rich and rewarding reading exercise of 650 pages about Thomas Cromwell who from a life of ruffian rises to a position next to the King of England The book is a fascinating read both in terms of insight and drama One gets quite an immersive experience in terms of relationship between the church, the king and the subjects Of the characters I found Anne Boleyn to be most interesting with the air of mystique that is lent to her in the first part and thereafter the bitchiness that she acquires.Before starting this book I didn t have any idea about these famous characters in history and so started it with no past baggage, and in that respect thus this book was quite enriching. This book has sold a huge number of copies and been made into a big budget TV series The story looks great but honestly this is one of the worst written books I ve ever attempted to wade through I bought all three at once but gave up about a quarter of the way through book one.It s nearly impossible to figure out what is happening or who is speaking The prose is written in the present tense, which I find incredibly irritating for some reason and makes the book sound like a Peppa Pig or Charlie and Lola book The most infuriating thing though is Mantel s habit of writing he says during a conversation between three, or possibly four, men meaning that you have no idea who is speaking She also quite often uses speech without quote marks, e.g He says, don t be childish George says, she is so a witch the Duke of Norfolk says she is, and he s her uncle, he should know I m at a loss who the first he refers to I thought it was Cavendish because that s the only name mentioned in the two pages before but then the following page tells us that he would rather be drinking with Cavendish The book is a complete mess and how this won the Man Booker Prize is a mystery to me, but it doesn t make me want to read any other winners.Interestingly, I tweeted that I was reading a prize winning book that was impossible to follow but did not name the author It took less than 2 minutes for 10 people to all correctly guess the author and book I was talking about so clearly I m not the only person who feels this way. I love historical fiction and this book had excellent reviews so decided to give it a try I ve not read any of Hilary Mantel s previous books so this may be an unfair judgement, but I found this book to be borderline unreadable.The tempo is SO slow and the dialogue is lacking any real character, and so I gave up on it without even reaching 100 pages Maybe it would have got better had I persevered with it, but I had lost my enthusiasm for it at that point A real shame as it s set in such an incredible point in British history. I must admit I do not understand all the great reviews for that book I am not going to comment on the research work the author has probably done extensively This book, by its topic and the age in which the story enfolds had everything to interest me.The problem though is that it is incredibly poorly written All the characters are lifeless, hard to tell apart from each other, the story is uneventful at best You hardly even know who the author is talking about, you always find the awful structure He, Cromwell, thought So clearly, the author is as confused as you are and if it s voluntary for purpose of style, it s even worse I hardly ever give up on a book after reading half of it But I realised that when you put the book down to browse on your phone, you just have to face the fact To me this book is a missed opportunity.