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The Crack Magazine


The Mirror And The Light

The final book in Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ trilogy is laden with more goodies than a 16th century Michaelmas feast. It features much jousting but this is mostly of a verbal variety, as rebels and usurpers jockey for position in the court of Henry VIII. Casting a cold eye over proceedings is Thomas Cromwell, who must juggle the needs of everyone from the church to foreign ambassadors to court painter Hans Holbein. It’s a monumental tale, running to 900 pages with a cast of over 100, but Mantel always keeps the machinations entertaining and isn’t afraid to deploy plenty of humour. The morning after Jane Seymour’s wedding night she bemoans, “He wants me to do very strange things. Things I never imagined a wife had to do.’ When Cromwell asks her to put modesty aside and tell him exactly what wild thing Henry has been asking of her, she whispers, ‘He wants me to ride down to Dover with him, and see the fortifications.” 

Hilary Mantel, Fourth Estate

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