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I don’t typically review a book until I have completely finished it, but the flurry of fairly negative reviews prompts me to jump in early. This book is a masterpiece, and the performance (it’s not fair to call it a mere narration) is similarly spectacular. I’m a Brit by birth so was brought up on the mystique of Henry and his infamous six wives. The rhyme of the ends of their lives; divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived is beaten into us at a young age. So maybe I’m not tripping over the historical context as much as other readers. I’d really recommend taking a couple of minutes to review a few Wikipedia articles on the king and his times before diving in if this period is a mystery to you. That sounds like work…but it’s worth it. If you can get past the basic Tudor names and events you will greatly enjoy this immersive hypnotic story and its telling. The period was so formative of our modern world, the break from Rome and the reformation all had roots in years covered by this story. The characters are fascinating, well drawn and beautifully performed. Before this story Cromwell and Cranmer were drab outlines, this telling breathes life into them making the tumultuous period live and vibrant. If you enjoyed Game of Thrones on HBO or pretty much any historic fiction you will love this book. Even if you aren’t a fan of Brit history and royal dictators your will find this beautifully told tale will take the head off your shoulders….
79 of 79 people found this review helpful
I had already read and enjoyed Wolf Hall, but wanted to experience it through a narrator as well. I am so glad that I did! This is hands down, one of the best audiobooks in my library. Simon Slater is a marvelous narrator. Although it took me a little while to get used to his 'Cromwell' voice, it made me feel as if I actually was getting to know the man. For those unfamiliar with the story, Cromwell is the protagonist and it shows him as a man who is caught between beliefs and the king and with a huge desire to protect his family, pay back the nobles who brought down his beloved master Cardinal Woolsey and to advance and safeguard his country. In most histories, Cromwell is shown as a scheming, grasping man and Thomas Moore, despite the atrocities he committed in the name of his religious beliefs is almost always shown as a saintly character.
Not so here- Moore is a sanctimonious academic snob who bullies his household. Cardinal Woolsey is a wealthy and satisfied prince of the church before his downfall, but also kind and wise. Simon Slater's voices for ALL of his characters are wonderful, but he outdoes himself with Moore and Woolsey.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you are interested in history, religion and politics and learning the many different viewpoints of this time period, as well as a wonderful slice of how life was lived in the 1500s in England. Simon Slater is such an excellent narrator- I will be seeking out his work on other books. His voice, coupled with the excellent writing made me fall just a little in love with ugly Thomas Cromwell!
65 of 66 people found this review helpful