Taking a Break from the Wolves

I bow down to Hilary Mantel for what she has accomplished with Booker-winning Wolf Hall. The writing is pitch perfect, and the scope of the novel in terms of both breadth and depth is remarkable. Be prepared to think very hard. I was constantly googling characters and referring back to the cast of characters and family trees the preface the book. —Another reviewer’s comment

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall came highly recommended. Not only did it win the Booker Prize and create a lot of noise (which is no guarantee that I’ll enjoy any book), it was also featured among Heather’s Picks, Heather Reisman being the CEO of Chapters/Indigo, who usually recommends books that sometimes happen to become favourites of mine too. But I regretfully have to put this book aside for now. I really wanted to like it and thought I was prepared to work at it a little, so I trudged through past one hundred pages or so, but it was harder going than I had imagined. For one, I’m no connoisseur of the Tudor era, which would probably help me make sense of the main events and characters and unlike that other reviewer, I’m not inclined to google anything when I’m reading as I’m usually tucked away in bed by then and have had more of my fill of computer time by then. Then there’s the writing style, which really is hard to get into. When reading a book, I prefer not having to go back a few pages every few sentences just to figure out what I missed, what is going on, or who is saying what, which is almost inevitable since Mantel makes excessive use of the pronouns “he” or “she” throughout, even when there are several people being discussed or taking part in a conversation. Many reviewers, who incidentally usually happen to be well versed in English History, tend to agree that one gets used to the style after a while. So maybe I’ll get back to it eventually, once I’ve familiarized myself with the main protagonists and events a little bit better. Meanwhile I have many other great books waiting for their turn. Close to three hundred of them in fact, according to my trusted LibraryThing account, and I keep adding more to the pile, so I’d better get cracking.

Words of advice to fellow migraine sufferers: this book will do you no good, trust me, I now know from experience.

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