ASK THE BOOK BUYER ABOUT... 2020’s most hotly-tipped novel The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
It's unlikely you've missed the fanfare and publicity this week marking the publication of one the most hotly anticipated novels in years:
The Mirror & the Light is the triumphant conclusion to Hilary Mantel's extraordinary Wolf Hall trilogy, following the rise of Thomas Cromwell from a blacksmith’s boy to Henry VIII's most trusted, powerful advisor.
It is eight years since part two of the trilogy,
Bring Up the Bodies, was published but I'd argue The Mirror & the Light was worth the wait: weighing in at 904 pages it addresses the years 1536 to 1540, from the moment Anne Boleyn's head falls, to Cromwell's own execution. I think it really is a novel of exquisite skill and epic storytelling (no, I haven’t read all those pages this week alone, I did have a head start) and as with the whole trilogy, Mantel has managed to distil a whole era of British history into a pulse-racing story that isn’t just about the evolution of one man but a society, a country and a nation.
Bets are already on that Mantel, having won the Booker Prize for parts one and two of the trilogy, will achieve a hat-trick this year. To celebrate, here is a selection of all things Cromwell, or should I say all things Mantel? The two names will be forever synonymous among historical fiction fans!
The Mirror & the Light
RRP £25 JARROLD PRICE £20
Picking up just moments after
Bring Up The Bodies ended, with Anne Boleyn’s blood pooling around her decapitated body, the reader is plunged back into the drama and tension of the Tudor world. Cromwell has secured the way for Henry VIII to marry Jane Seymour but as we all know, the story didn’t end there and he was dead just four years later. Driven to realise his own vision of England’s future, Cromwell can trust no-one, and must deal with the fact his enemies are forthcoming. He is ruthless, ambitious and effectively running the country for Henry VIII, but it would be dangerous – lethal – to forget his humble beginnings and to underestimate what his king feels he is owed. SHOP NOW
The Mirror & the Light, Deluxe Edition
Only 500 of these have been produced and we have four left (at the time of writing this). They are beautiful collector’s editions of
The Mirror and the Light, in a black, cloth-covered slipcase, individually numbered and signed by Hilary Mantel. The book also includes head and tail bands and a ribbon marker. Get one while you can! Please enquire in the book department for details and to purchase a deluxe edition.
Starting from the beginning? Or perhaps you want to refresh yourself with parts one and two before you dive into
The Mirror & the Light – this is what I did and though it was time-consuming, it was such a pleasure and helped me get back up to speed with all the different characters and facts. Wolf Hall opens in the 1520s, where Henry VIII wants a divorce from Katherine of Aragon and Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey’s clerk and then successor, first comes to his attention. In this first book we go deep into Cromwell’s psyche, seeing how a tough childhood, travels abroad, losing his wife and daughters, all fed into his determination and resolve to thrive and build power. He is sharp, witty, unbelievably bold and though the history books tell us he was a ruthless bully, this novel gives us a real man, sympathetic, complex and utterly compelling. AVAILABLE INSTORE NOW AND ONLINE SOON
Bring Up the Bodies
Ann Boleyn is now queen and has given Henry VIII what he doesn’t want – another daughter, Elizabeth. Ann is dangerous, divisive and desperate to hold onto Henry’s affections, but as she fails to produce a male heir, Henry grows bored and is soon besotted with Jane Seymour. Cromwell sees it all and must carry out Henry’s wishes, to be rid of Ann, which is made more direct when rumours of her infidelity start to trickle through. What ensues is not just the death of a queen but the shake-up of some of the most rich and powerful families of England at the time. I love the
Financial Times' description of the book: ‘A great novel of dark and dirty passions, public and private.’ SHOP NOW
Thomas Cromwell: A Life
You’ve read about the fictional Cromwell but here is the definitive biography of him, published in 2018 and written by a Professor of History of the Church at Oxford University. Tracing Cromwell’s life from his birth in Putney to his meteoric rise in the Tudor court, MacCulloch has been lauded for his ‘historical detective’ work, making new connections about Cromwell’s life, previously hampered by the fact so many of Cromwell’s papers were destroyed on his execution. A rich portrait of a man who shaped English politics and the Church, overturning previously long-held ideas and theories, this biography is considered definitive.
AVAILABLE INSTORE NOW AND ONLINE SOON
The Little Book of the Tudors
If, like me, you’ve caught Mantel fever then you’ll be looking for more to read on the Tudors and this little book is a brilliant companion piece, exploring all aspects of Tudor life, from people to pastimes to palaces. With black and white illustrations and information boxes containing bite-sized facts and titbits, it’s an accessible look at their world, from lavish dinners at the palace to the dangers of the sweating sickness (which, incidentally, caused the deaths of Cromwell’s wife and daughters), from basic Tudor coinage to the surprisingly generous tips and payments Henry VIII made to musicians and dancers he took a fancy to!
AVAILABLE INSTORE NOW AND ONLINE SOON
Prices and availability checked Friday 6 March 2020.
Ask the book buyer about 2020’s most hotly-tipped novel