Mantel in March :: Wolf Hall :: Hilary Mantel

March 16, 2020

If you've been in a bookshop in the past few weeks you've probably seen that The Mirror and the Light - the third book in Hilary Mantel's historical fiction series about Thomas Cromwell - is out now. This would have to be one of the most anticipated books of 2020 - the previous two books in the series both won Man Booker prizes, and we've been waiting since 2012 for this final installment in the trilogy. When one of my favourite bookish people - Simon from Savidge Reads - announced he was hosting a readalong (#MantelinMarch) of the trilogy to celebrate, I couldn't resist setting aside my giant TBR stack and joining in!

The readalong started at the start of the month, and the plan was to read all three books across the month. Trust me when I tell you this is no mean feat! Book one - Wolf Hall - is a huge 650 pages long. I have actually read this one before - in 2012 - and from memory I feel like it took me about 6 months. I do remember that I took it to the UK last time we were on holidays there, and I remember reading quite a lot of it in and around York, which was quite cool!

The timing of the readalong was that we should read about 100 pages each day, which would mean about a week for Wolf Hall. I didn't quite manage to keep up that pace - I feel like it isn't only a big book, but also quite dense. I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out who was who in Henry VIII's court - which Thomas was related to whom, and how the families all fit together (thank goodness for google!). There is also something a bit particular about the style of the writing. I really enjoyed it, but it did take a bit to get into. One of the things I found tricky to start off with was that Mantel often refers to 'him' when she's writing dialogue, and I found it a bit hard to stay on top of which him in the room was saying what (until I got used to the fact that 'him' almost always means Cromwell.)

I managed to read my way through this one in just under two weeks, which I'm pretty pleased with, and I really enjoyed every bit. I'm super keen to watch some Tudor tv shows (including the Wolf Hall series!) AND of curse to read more about the Tudors (I feel like it would be a waste not to read as much about them as I can now that I'm a bit across who everyone is!). Obviously I'll be moving on with the next book in the series - Bring Up the Bodies - but I think what I'm going to do is read that one in April, and then The Mirror and the Light in May.

Let me know if you're reading these at the moment too!

xo Bron

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  1. That is one thick book! Go you for rereading it, too! I am so proud of you for getting through it so quickly. I know it wasn't the 100 pages a day you wanted to, but two weeks is pretty incredible especially with how busy your life is!