A Tudor-themed book has won the Booker Prize for 2009 in Great Britain. Tis called Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel but no, contrary to what ya'd think, it's NOT about Jane Seymour or any of her ilks....tis about Thomas Cromwell. Go figure.
I'm amused by the condensing of the tale some book critic guy did in the Guardian of the novel's plot:
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel, 4th Estate (£18.99)
1500: The next blow will be his last. "I'm going to kill you," his blacksmith father yells. He rolls away and runs. He is not yet 15 years old.
1527: "How were the Yorkshire slope-heads, Tom?" Wolsey asks. He likes the Cardinal, but he likes the third-person historic present better, a reformative take on the stream of consciousness that is making the Pope spit blood, though no more than the King's ongoing petition to have his marriage to Katherine annulled. It's just a shame he doesn't always know precisely to which he each he refers.
1529: The cardinal cannot deliver a deal for the King. He is finished. He remains loyal in word, less so in deed. He has come a long way since his wife and two daughters died of the sweating. Only his son Gregory remains. "Why Gregory?" his son asks. "As homage to Philippa," he replies. [Does this mean what methinks it does? Acuz tis hilarious if it does] He is now the most powerful lawyer and money-lender in the land, and has the ear of the King.
1530: "Good day, Cromuel," Anne says. He finds Boleyn's Franglais slightly grating in dialogue otherwise mercifully free of Zounds, but the minx has the king bent round her finger by refusing to bed him till they are wed. Unlike her sister Mary, who has already slept with the king and would sleep with him too. But that is a secret best kept to himself.
1533: The succession is secure and Anne is with child. It has been a hard battle, many bishops have burnt, but he is more than a match for anyone. "It does no harm to be thought capable of murder," he tells Gregory playfully, "especially when you have a Booker-nominated author going out of her way to flesh out your softer side. Talking of revisionism, I must visit that selfish, bullying halfwit, Sir Thomas More, whom the English have venerated ever since A Man for All Seasons first came out.
1534: The queen has given birth to a girl, and More is refusing to sign the Act of Supremacy. He is tired. It is hard work maintaining an interest in the narrative of Tudor history when he is only an intermittent observer and he spends much time at home having his portrait painted. He remembers the book is called Wolf Hall and resolves to see Jane Seymour, in whom he has more than a passing interest. But first there is More's execution to attend. "Have you any last words?" he asks. "If this is but the first volume of a trilogy and there are another 1,300 pages to come," More replies, "then I am well out of here."
Digested read, digested: The Other Cromwell Boy.
John Crace The Guardian, Tuesday 6 October