Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
My boyfriend was peacefully reading the book #2 of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy in a train trip last year, when I started creepily staring, almost drooling over the pages, until he told me what book it was. I have a thing for thick books – they just look so beautiful and full of promises – so I was immediately convinced to put it on my TBR.
I have recently mentioned this book in the review from The Other Boleyn Girl, but this book is by no means in the same style. If you liked The Other Boleyn girl and are looking for something similar, this book may not be for you. I recommend reading some more reviews before getting into this one.
Synopsis: is book that tells the famous story of king Henry VIII’s persuit of Anne Boleyn through the point of view of a unique character: Thomas Cromwell, a lawyer and statesmen with a quick mind and great ambition.
Let’s start with what was hard to get used to: the whole “he” thing going on. This book uses “he” to refer to Cromwell, our narrator, while mostly using other characters’ names when referring to them to avoid confusion. Which doesn’t really avoid confusion a whole lot, at least for the beginning, and you’ll find yourself re-reading sentences often to make sure you understand who exactly is being talked about now. Also, this book is almost 700 pages long and sometimes feels like it goes quite slowly. To make life even harder, most male characters seem to be called Thomas, which isn’t really the author’s fault, but nevertheless a bit annoying. Also at times it felt to me that there were some scenes that did not add to the story at all and were a bit random.
Now that the negative is out of the way, here is the thing: I recommend this book. Mantel’s writing is really wonderful and crafts scenes masterfully. It makes you hold your breath, chuckle at the witty dialogue and go through the book rather quickly, for all its length. Personally, I like Bring up the Bodies better, but I would recommend this one too, and I would not jump into book #2 without reading this one (which I was tempted to do). Book #3 will come out this year, and I can barely wait. I gave it three stars because, despite the great writing and really well constructed characters, I had to constantly go back to see who was this character again, and as soon as I finished the book I knew that I wouldn’t re-read it.
This book will require a little patience from its reader, but it is easy to devour it rather quickly due to Mantel’s great writing. If you like Tudor-themed books and are looking for something to read on that, it is a very good one and really well-researched. I do not recommend it if you generally are a bit impatient, or if you find its style too confusing – using “he” to refer to Cromwell all the time can be really frustrating if you don’t get used to it within the first pages. All in all, a great book, but not for everyone’s taste.