We've now entered week 3 of Wolf Hall Wednesdays. I'm glad to have Leah from Amused by Books back! She's had to endure things I don't even want to imagine over the past two weeks. I think we are both behind in reading -- we expected to be over 300 pages by now -- I'm clocking in around 250 -- Leah is ahead a bit. The book's heft is starting to weigh on me. I still like it, but it's become more of a chore than an indulgence.
Leah came up with questions this week -- here are our thoughts:
1. We've spent a lot of time with Henry VIII now. What do you think of him as a king?
Amused By Books: It's fascinating to me how everyone's world revolves around this one man. I know that our tide shifts a lot when elect a new president but this seems a little ridiculous. His every whim is met without question. I don't necessarily think Henry is portrayed as a bad or selfish person, it just amazes me how someone is given so much power, and yet, will bow to Anne Boleyn. It's all very interesting.
Gerbera Daisy Diaries: I have this slovenly, overweight, overindulged, Henry VIII in my brain, when in fact, he doesn’t sound like that at all. I suppose that caricature comes much later in his life, but in my reading, my brain still wants to project that image. I’ve admitted to being a closet anglophile (how many days did I cry when Diana died??!!!), but this royalty thing, even now, is really over the top. That he can summons Cromwell to his bedside in the middle of the night (and he has to travel by BOAT to get there) to discuss a dream is mind boggling. And with regards to Anne Boleyn – it goes back to my “rules” theory – he wants her so bad, because he CAN’T have her. I don’t think it is anything particularly unique to Anne herself, other than the church says he can’t divorce Katherine (who I like more and more, by the way – are there any books on Katherine we can read?!) and Anne won’t give him what he wants, when EVERYONE else does.
OK, can I add a question: Why on earth do they keep referring to Mary as a “shrimp?” Is she THAT ugly???
ABB: I was thinking it was because she was shy? It could be because she's ugly! Yes - we need to research some Katherine books once we are done that we can read because I agree, she is an intriguing figure!
2. How are you keeping all of the characters straight?
ABB: Am I, really? Well the only thing that's helping is the fact that I have a degree in History but this wasn't my favorite time period. I'll tell you what is really helping is the proliferation of novels set in this time period that I've read recently. I don't find myself flipping to that chart at the front of the book. It's too dense of book to waste extra time. I'm just kind of barreling through!
GDD: Um…I’m not. There was a dinner scene I just finished, and when I got to the end, I thought, “who were those people?” The biggest mysteries: Brereton, Cranmer (another Thomas! Ugh!) Wriothesley – I have no idea what roles they play, other than they keep getting mentioned. But I’m doing the same – I can’t take the time to go back to the front as a reference – I just keep turning the pages hoping that it will all make sense in the end. And honestly, I know he plays an important role after Wolsey, but I still can’t figure out Thomas More.
Oh, and this has nothing to do with your question, but I was really disappointed in her treatment of Wolsey’s death. So anticlimactic.
ABB: Totally agree about the death being anti-climactic! They went on and on about how much money it would cost to bring him from wherever he was in hiding and how much Cromwell loved him and then, poof, he was dead. He was this character that was hated by so many, you would think that people would have been cheering in the streets while Cromwell would have been crying over the death of his mentor.
3. Wolf Hall has finally been mentioned. What kind of role do you expect it might play in upcoming events in the book?
ABB: Well if I understand what's happened correctly Wolf Hall is the ancestral home of the Seymour's and if I understand my history correctly, after Anne Boleyn, King Henry will go on to marry Jane Seymour so possibly Cromwell will help with that all at Wolf Hall. I don't know, just throwing out guesses here.
GDD: Totally agree. But so far, Mantel doesn’t portray Jane very well either. Like she is this fly on the wall -- kind of mysterious and unnoticed. I’m only speculating, but is she the one that starts the rumors about Anne and her brother George having a relationship?
Check out Elise's thoughts on our reading as well, here.
If anyone else is reading along -- what are your thoughts?