Probably the most popular historical novel series, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy will most likely take center stage in the book world come March when The Mirror & the Light will be published.
Publisher HarperCollins says the novel will offer “a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage”
I am not a big fan of the idea of a series that puts Thomas Cromwell in a positive light, particularly after some of the things he is known to have done, but then again. . . Sometimes the most interesting characters are those who have done terrible things.
I also found the writing style a bit confusing. The use of the word “he” and the inordinate amount of characters that go by the name “Thomas,” left me turning back to pages I already read. Eventually, like the rest of us, I caught on.
Wolf Hall (2009), which outlined Cromwell’s rise to power, and Bring Up the Bodies (2012), which covers the beheading of Anne Boleyn. Both novels won the Booker prize and have sold a combined 1.5m copies, making the third one of the most anticipated novels of the decade.
I admit to some British history fatigue, however. Having been born and lived in other countries beside those in Europe and the US, I often feel the market is over-saturated with Anglophilic novels.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m going to read The Mirror & the Light happily. The political backstabbing between characters is fascinating and the series often underscores the malevolent genius of British politicians. And can certainly inform us today.
Mantel said of the third book, “When I began work on my Thomas Cromwell books back in 2005, I had high hopes, but it took time to feel out the full scope of the material. I didn’t know at first I would write a trilogy, but gradually I realized the richness and fascination of this extraordinary life. Since then I have been on a long journey, with the good companionship of archivists, artists, booksellers, librarians, actors, producers, and—most importantly—millions of readers through the world. I hope they will stay with me as we walk the last miles of Cromwell’s life, ascending to unprecedented riches and honour and abruptly descending to the scaffold at Tower Hill. This book has been the greatest challenge of my writing life, and the most rewarding; I hope and trust my readers will find it has been worth the wait.”