Review: Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

A lady called Wendy has written a brilliant opener to her review of Wolf Hall on the good reads website, and whilst I don’t have the grammatical knowledge to agree or disagree with the rest of her review I think she hit the nail on the head in the first paragraph

 “Have you ever been with a group of people when someone tells a joke and the rest of the group thinks it’s hilarious but you just don’t get it? Wolf Hall was that way for me. So many people think it’s brilliant while I couldn’t maintain enough interest to finish it”

Need I write any more… I will explain at least.

I really struggled to read this book but I was also feeling determined to finish it, first and foremost because I’m an optimistic person so I kept hoping it would get better or reel me in so all my preconceptions and misgivings about Mantel could be proved wrong! Secondly the next in Mantels trilogy is also a Booker prize winner so at some point I’ll be reading ‘Bring up the Bodies’!

However, last night at the 300 page mark I decided I really didn’t want to carry on – Perhaps because it’s the end of the year and I’m ready for a fresh (book) start on 1 January? So I’ve done something I rarely do – give up on a book.

Ever since I decided to do this challenge the Hilary Mantel books were my nemesis. I’m not a big history fan and the idea of a 600+ page historical novel was incredibly unappealing to me!
On the recommendation of a friend (thank you Helen R!) I borrowed a copy from the library rather than download on kindle. The idea behind this was that there are so many characters and complicated families you need to be able to flick back and forth to the family trees and lists of characters in each scene easily, something which I agree with because I did it a lot!

However the hindrance with this was the size of the book. Given that most of my reading time is on the bus to and from work each day this book was so big I literally had to bring an extra bag every day I took the book on the bus. Not commuter friendly!

I do think I’d find the storyline interesting if it was cut to about 200 pages… Mantel is very wordy and there are long sections of prose where I kept losing track of who was speaking to who. Coupled with the fact that many characters had at least 2 names in the story.

So, that’s it on Mantel for now. I’m not sure what this means for when I get round to reading Bring up the Bodies but hopefully the recent film or tv production of wolf hall will get me up to speed.

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