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The Mirror and the Light/Hilary Mantel

In these extraordinary times I feel entitled in reviewing a book that I have not read and am not going to read.

It’s the third book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy on Thomas Cromwell. Reviewers I respect have criticised it for being too long and needing editing.

Why the fuss?

It’s rather like the Art world where classicist Mary Beard has tipped her lance at the male patrician world of Kenneth Clarke even though he is infinitely more expert in the field.

The interest in the Tudiors has been male. Historians like Simon Schama dominate the stage. So Hilary Mantel has the advantage of being female. She has done her research but so do most writers of this genre.

She is also helped by the personality and work of Cromwell.

To rise from Putney butcher’s son to the king’s chief advisor and secretary of state is no mean feat.

It’s hard from this distance to comprehend the importance of the Dissolution of the Monasteries he supervised.

There was one church and the state was regarded by the Pope as subservient to it.

Cromwell upset the old order – there were now numerous branches of Christianity, a divide which still affects Germany and Holland – and also generated the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

I did read Wolf Hall.

Here I was confused by the textual distance between ‘his’ and the subject.

This she has apparently corrected in the next two.

I remember nothing about it.

For my enjoyment I much prefer the Matthew Shardlake series of C.J. Ransom.

Shardale, a Chancery lawyer, did receive a commission from Cromwell regarding a murder.

About Henry Elkins

A keen researcher of family ancestors, Henry will be reporting on the centenary of World War One. More Posts