My second book of 2010 was another winner. I’m not sure there is a lot that I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It’s gotten great reviews and won the 2009 Booker Prize. The back cover has a blurb from a review by The Guardian that describes it as “a non-frothy historical novel”. That’s a great description. I have to admit it took me a little bit to get into and at first I could see why it was a better book but guiltily thought to myself that I enjoyed the frothy historical novels more. But as I read, I became more and more drawn into the story and the beautiful writing. The story is about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn but told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, an advisor to Henry VIII. I knew very little about Cromwell before reading this book and it is to the author’s credit that after 500+ pages I found myself wanting to know more. Mantel does a really wonderful job of making the political situation at the time fascinating and even more interesting than the scandal of Henry and his wives. I also found myself really intrigued by how Henry’s desire for divorce was used by many of his advisers to advance the Protestant Reformation in England.
Bottom line is that this isn’t a light or “frothy” read. But it is well worth the time commitment. Ultimately I’m sure it will stay with me longer than the more fun novels about the Tudors I’ve read.