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hilary mantel

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

    You know it’s something special when a book ends and you just can’t stop thinking about it. My heart has been heavy all week since this remarkable novel ended…I loved it. Here is my book review The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel.

    I must preface;

    First this is a trilogy and a masterpiece. You could do only one book, but honestly why would you? Of the three, this final one, The Mirror and the Light was the creme de la creme. Everything about it was brilliant.

    BUT, I must tell you that I listened to all three of the Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell novels on Audible. For me, this kind of deep and historic novel is perfect for Audible. And The Mirror and the Light unfolded like a beautifully choreographed play (a 36 hour play) – captivating me with every word. Of all the Audible books I have enjoyed in my life, the reader of The Mirror and the Light, British actor Ben Miles, could not have been more perfect. Miles’ incredible talent of giving voice to the multitude of characters throughout the book was astonishing. And most astonishing was the depth at which he was able to develop the main character of Thomas Cromwell, even as Cromwell changes through the years.

    The Mirror and the Light chronicles the final years of the life of Thomas Cromwell, right hand man to King Henry VIII in the 1500’s. In Mantel’s earlier works (Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies), Cromwell has witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of England, the Church, and Henry- including the debacle of four of his six wives.

    The story of Cromwell and indeed Henry VIII, is well known in history, but the talent of Mantel’s writing brings us into 16th century England, into Court and indeed at the elbow of these fascinating giants of history during a time of violence, poverty, power and greed.

    The Mirror and the Light now falls in my top books of all time, alongside All The Light You Cannot See, Pillars of the Earth and the Harry Potter series.

    Thanks to Mantel for finishing this trilogy in such a beautiful way and thank you Ben Miles for bringing it to life on Audible. I might just listen to it again.

    *****Five Stars (and more if I could) for The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

    Read last week’s review of Daisy Jones and the Six

    My Current Read The Vanishing Half

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I tried to read this book several years ago (published 2009) but couldn’t get focused on it. That was back when I was still a frantic working mom. Oh times have changed.

    I am much calmer and have a lot more free time, and on my second try I became engrossed in the Wolf Hall story. This novel has been showered with awards, and is fascinating in its complexity and historical detail.

    The book covers the early 1500’s in England, during the reign of King Henry the VIII and follows Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power within King Henry’s court.

    This is the first of a trilogy about Cromwell’s life, a man who was close to every major historical event in England during this period. He influenced Kings and Lords, had his hand in the Catholic Church and eventually the Church of England.

    Though filled with historical facts and people, the book is a re-imagined story built from historical records. My love of Ken Follett’s work of this same era is because of Follett’s ability to bring the reader so intimately into the lives of the lowly working class people of the time. Mantel does the same, but shows us the inner workings and confidences of the ruling class and aristocracy. From the King on down through the court Mantel careful makes these historical figures familiar to us.

    I’m looking forward now to tackling the next two books very soon. I loved Mantel’s writing, her beautiful descriptive prose precisely put the reader in the moment. Her talent for words in itself is beguiling. She is a faithful, veracious author.

    *****Five Stars for Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

    Read last week’s review of The Devil’s Cup

    My current read The Magic Circle

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