I saved this one for my Christmas read. It was, well, FANTASTIC, BRILLIANT, LOVED IT. No wonder she won the Booker Prize again with this. The previous book, Wolf Hall, copped a bit of flak – not for the wonderful words, narrative, prose etc, but more for its treatment of the characters of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. Cromwell is a traditional villain and More is a Saint. In this series, you can’t help but like Cromwell as an anti-hero. More is portrayed as a zealot. The point is, this is a work of fiction. The characters are imagined – extremely impressively – by an author.
As More is well and truly dead by this novel, it will be interesting to see whether the critics remain silent. Cromwell is again a brilliant strategist (the real Cromwell must have been) In case you have no idea what I’m on about, it is a work of historical fiction based on Thomas Cromwell, at this time Master Secretary to Henry VIII.
Cromwell is a puppet master, manipulating people and events to suit his purpose. He is ruthless, vengeful, dangerous, a complete hypocrite but you can’t help but warm to him. He is a genius and it is a pleasure to roam among his thoughts. But this is not a one dimensional character portrait – the surrounding characters are well developed too. My book of the year. If you are thinking of reading it, be sure to read Wolf Hall first.
I would really like to quote the entire book – it’s great. But here are some samples:
“The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.”
“Truth can break the gates down, truth can howl in the street; unless truth is pleasing, personable and easy to like, she is condemned to stay whimpering at the back door.”
“~ You know young Francis Weston? He that waits on the king? His people are giving out that you’re a Hebrew… Next time you’re at court, take your cock out and put it on the table and see what he says to that.
~ I do that anyway, if the conversation flags.”