Archive for the ‘Hilary Mantel’ Category

A splendid Part 2: we are instantly back in Tudor England–she evokes the place, the costumes, the food with masterly skill. But now our beloved Cromwell has to engage in some pretty horrible stuff–he has to bring down Ann Boleyn and set Jane in her place. A certain amount of distasteful business in pursuit of this devoutly-to-be-wished consummation. And the poor Dowager, left to die in her damp castle!

I had nevAnn Boleyner heard of the jousting accident which almost killed Henry, and which is credited with turning his brain from healthful normalcy to crazy possessed. But, upon a little research, I discover that it is quite true. Everyone thought he WAS dead–and indeed, Ann’s father rushed to her to tell her. Some credit her subsequent miscarriage (of a boy, the longed-for heir) to this terrible misapprehension.

This skillful story telling is the way I wish to learn history. As long as she hews to the truth of what might have been, what care I if she puts thoughts in the minds of our long dead ancestors? Well, come to think of it, one might cavil if in fact it were one’s own grandmother, or, perhaps oneself. But for those living 400 years ago, perhaps this imaginative recreating of what might have been is permissible. In fact, Hilary did a lot of research, and I am inclined to believe what she writes as at least–possible. It is certainly entertaining, whatever else it is or is not.

The title refers to the actual term in the law document, directing that the prisoners be brought before the court. A fascinating bit of history there. But the whole book is filled with fascinating history–the clothes, the food, the furniture, the houses. One of the reviews mentioned that the rich images and compelling detail of each scene made for a dreamlike experience, moving from one jeweled space to another.

How I dread Cromwell’s death, upcoming in Book 3! He is such a distinct and likeable character, despite his deadly machinations.


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