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A solid, although not stellar, historical novel,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Wolf Hall (Taschenbuch)
I'll admit first thing, that I had very high expectations for this book - I am currently very interested in pre-Elizabethan British history, and the Man Booker Prize is about the biggest recommendation any book in English can get. If the rest of my review concentrates on being critical, keep in mind that I am holding it to a very high standard. Overall it is a good book and I highly recommend it.
The blurb announced Wolf Hall as a page turner, a book you cannot put down once you start it. That did not happen for me. In fact, I put it down a bit too often. As a result I often got confused about who is who - as is pretty common in historical novels, there are characters aplenty and in this book, about 50% of them are named "Thomas". These characters come and go, and in many cases the author fails to make them really recognizable.
This flatness of character is also present in the protagonist. My biggest problem with the novel was that Thomas Cromwell, the central figure, comes across as almost superhuman in his abilities and talents, as well as in his compassion to both friends and enemies. His abilities made the protagonist less credible. I cannot recall any scene in the book where the protagonist was stretched to the limit of his abilities, he always had an answer ready in every situation. In novels, I find that operating outside of the characters' "comfort zone" is what really makes them captivating. Wolf Hall was lacking in that respect.
I learned a lot about British history in the early 16th century, as well as the roots of Protestantism. While the factual circumstances are very well described, I failed to get the "feel" of the time. Similar to the characters, the setting did not come alive. At no time, I felt I as really "in" the novel.
If I had not been so pumped up with expectations, I think this book would have been a pleasurable surprise. I'd still label it a good read, if not a great one.