Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Welcome to Wolf Hall Wednesdays Read Along!

Today is the inaugural post of my my series -- Wolf Hall Wednesdays -- with Leah at Amused by Books, as we navigate, discuss and encourage each other through our reading of the Man Booker Prize Award winning novel, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

This is a month long goal to read all 560 pages by May 31st. Each Wednesday, we will report back to each other and those who want to participate (remember it is a read along!). It's not too late to join us! I'm already behind schedule, but life can't stop entirely for Wolf Hall. Nonetheless, we have begun our reading -- and so far, LOVE the book in spite of its heft. Here are our first thoughts on the book:

1. What do you think of Mantel's writing style?

Amused By Books - Honestly, I was surprised that she jumped right in without really setting up the story. Yes, there was the whole part before the book began where she outlined chapter by chapter with each character that was in it like it was some sort of play but I am not going to spend my time flipping back and forth to that like it's some sort of reference book. I've got better things to do with my time -like read! I do appreciate the genealogy and some set up like that but I also want some of the scene to be set in a historical fiction. It does appear to jump around from chapter to chapter. I'm finding it a bit confusing.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries:

My 1st thought when I cracked the cover: when an author devotes 4 pages to names/characters and who they are before the book even starts, it doesn't bode well for this reader. That being said, I'm surprised how I'm FOLLOWING it! I actually like her writing style. I was expecting old fashioned, Shakespearean-like prose, for some reason, so the fact that she's writing with modern language is a huge plus. You are farther along than I am, so it could get more confusing the deeper you get into the book. Ugh.

2. What do you think of the historical setting?

ABB - I've read a lot of books recently set during Henry VIII's reign and so I am somewhat familiar with this time frame and I am glad of that. I don't think I would know what was going on if I hadn't read some of these recently, or at least it might take me a lot longer to figure it out. Barring that though, I like that Mantel doesn't have her characters talk with too much affectation so that they are pretty easy to understand and it doesn't always feel like it's set so long ago.

It goes without saying that one of the reasons this book intrigued me so WAS the historical setting! I LOVE this time period. Not that I’ve taken tons of classes or spent time reading books on Tudor England, but I am a closet anglophile, so this is great. And, I echo the above, I was expecting a much more difficult time trying to “read” this – but she isn’t using any antiquated English for her characters. Thank goodness!

3. Are there any stand out characters for you at this early stage?

I like Cardinal Wolsey - he seems to be a trouble maker. I am not saying I like him morally - just that he seems to be stirring up trouble.

So far the only two major characters that I’ve had to get a grasp on are Cromwell and Wolsey. If there is any truth to her historical fiction, I had no idea Cromwell left home at 14-15 yrs old and that his father was such a brute. I love Cromwell’s relationship with his wife, Liz. And the dynamic between Wolsey and Cromwell is so intriguing! I can’t wait to see what happens, because honestly (historically), I don’t remember!

This is a huge, dense, book – but if I can stay on track with my reading – I think I can accomplish this! Don’t give up on me Leah!


Elise said...

Yay!! It's begun!! I am participating in the epic Wolf Hall read-along!! As I live in Australia I am a day ahead so I went ahead and posted my thoughts without the direct questions. However I have pretty much answered them anyway I think. I am really enjoying this book!! Here is what I think so far:

Shanda McKeehan said...

This looks really interesting! Thanks for sharing, I think I am going to try to get it from the library today.

Amused said...

Woohoo! Looks great! We're really reading it now :)