This sequel to Wolf Hall continues the story of Thomas Cromwell, Master Secretary to the government of Henry VIII. This episode deals with the downfall of Anne Boleyn.
Part of the magic is the way the story is told in the present tense and from the point of view of Cromwell (although continually referring to him as 'he'). Indirect speech is mingled with quoted speech so that one is never quite sure what Cromwell is thinking and what he is saying; this supports the essential secrecy of the central protagonist. The attraction of this man is that he is so modern. Faced with a world of nobles, chivalry and jousts, he organises and manages. In sweeping away the monasteries he places the monarchy on a sound financial footing; he understands trade and banking. Throwaway lines show that he is the man to begin baptismal records, he extends the justice system to Wales, he doesn't use torture (although his interrogations scarcely suit modern sensibilities and the trials over which he presides are show trials), he seeks to place the parish priests on a proper footing, and he tries to bring in a Keynesian law to give public work to the unemployed.
This book doesn't have the immense power of Wolf Hall but it is a very readable sequel. It won the 2012 Booker, beating The Lighthouse by Alison Moore.
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57