61dJSKn+U2L._SL500_Synopsis: “England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

My Review

I listened to this for the When Are You Reading? challenge, to fit the 1500 to 1699 category. I loved the historical detail in this book, it was fascinating, particularly how Henry VIII brought about the end of his first marriage, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. I’d never really thought about the intricacies of how it all happened, and this book richly imagines all the corruption and skulduggery that went on.

I’m very glad I’m alive now and not in Tudor times, and especially not part of Thomas Cromwell’s world. You couldn’t trust anyone in Henry VIII’s court, or anyone remotely connected to him. Also with the religious persecution going on, as well, it was a terrifying time to be alive, and that’s without the low mortality rate!

Dan Stevens narration was superb, and was one of the reasons I listened to this abridged version. It brought the book to life perfectly confirming that he is still one of my favourite narrators. 

I can see why this book has won prizes and why the whole trilogy has been raved about, but it was a bit too heavy for me. I certainly wouldn’t want to listen to the unabridged version of over 25 hours, and definitely not read it at almost 700 pages! However, I might return and listen to the other abridged audiobooks of the trilogy, if the When Are You Reading? challenge is still going in 2023 and 2024.

I definitely recommend it to lovers of historical fiction set in Tudor times.