Not quite a year ago I posted about A Man For All Seasons and both Rachel-who-needs-a-blog and Linda recommended Wolf Hall to me in the comments. I downloaded the Kindle sample immediately but I didn't actually get the book read until summer.
I really enjoyed the beginning of it -- maybe the first half. There's a scene near the beginning of the book in which Cardinal Wolsey casually breaks the seal of confession and I must have gasped audibly. I can still see that scene in my mind's eye, actually, with the cardinal's house an island of luxury in the miserable London darkness. As the book progressed, though, I became increasingly impatient with it. There are certainly plenty of good bits -- I found the death of Cromwell's wife moving, and the Anne Boleyn character is well-drawn. But I couldn't shake the feeling that Mantel was pushing an agenda. There's a scene in which a member of Cromwell's household says something like "I don't need to go to church to see a piece of bread." It rings false to me -- those are more plausibly the words that a 21st-century writer would put in a 16th-century youth's mouth than the words he would utter spontaneously.
Melanie B. posted unhappily about this book, especially its character assassination of St. Thomas More. I am glad I finished it, but I won't be reading the sequel.
Just today I finished another book about religion in 16th-century England, this one a Melanie B. recommendation. I was going to write about it as well, but I am being summoned from upstairs by a wakeful 3yo. Watch this space...