Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Set in the reign of Henry VIII this novel by Hilary Mantel explores the intrigues and machinations of life at Court when King Henry decides to disolve his twenty year marriage to Katherine so that he can marry Anne Boleyn. The book chronicles the rise of Thomas Cromwell from his early life as the son of a violent blacksmith to become the chief advisor to the King. The politics of Court, Church and Parliament are fully described as the struggle to enable the King to marry Anne is played out. The aftermath of this decision including the trial of those who oppose the King's remarriage and his new position as Head of the Church in England aligned with the beginnings of the protestant movement overseas and the impact of printing making the Gospel available to common people is explored. Fluctuating fortunes of prominent families including the Boleyns, the Seymours and the Howards are documented as well as Englands relations with countries overseas. The novel emphasises the instability to the country caused by not having an heir to the Crown. It creates a dramatic picture of life in Tudor England, particularly from 1527 to 1535. This is only part of the story. Undoutably there will be a sequel to this winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009.