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Wolf Hall - why can't I get into it?

(63 Posts)
zenoushka Mon 11-Mar-13 11:29:22

This is my second attempt at trying to read Wolf Hall, I've done a bit better and have managed to get myself to page 62 ( the first time I only managed to get to page 44 before I gave up).

My dad and best friend have absolutely raved about it, saying how amazing it is and that I have to stick with it and will realise how good it is. But quite frankly I'm just finding it a slog. At tips or advice? I love reading about the Tudors and am really interested in the period, but the grammar in the Book is really confusing me too...

Poledra Mon 11-Mar-13 11:32:58

I found Wolf Hall quite difficult to get into, but enjoyed it after I'd managed it - probably took me about 100 pages or so though. Bring Up the Bodies I found much easier, and raced through it in a few days. No tips other than persistence, though...

zenoushka Mon 11-Mar-13 11:42:56

Thanks - I've got the rest of the week off from work and am going to sit down and just persevere and see how I get on!

fedupwithdeployment Mon 11-Mar-13 11:44:45

A friend of mine said it was about page 250 or even 300 before she was gripped....I am struggling, and have been on and off for a long time. I think it is the sort of book you need to sit and read, without interruption. Bring up the Bodies was a lot easier. Friend said that you just need to remember to concentrate on key characters....there are so many, it is easy to lose the plot.

Am reading Wiggo's biography for a spot of light relief now...

greygeek Mon 11-Mar-13 11:47:48

I've just finished it and found that the strange mix of first person and third person narrative very difficult to get on with at the start - sometimes you had no idea who was speaking o what was happening. But I persevered and very much enjoyed the descriptions of life in the period and the political intrigues. The characters do come to life for you and despite the fact that the overall story is well known it still has a strong narrative of its own. For me it slightly fizzled out at the end - no doubt to lure me to buy the sequel!

PuppyMonkey Mon 11-Mar-13 11:47:52

Probably best if I avoid mentioning the shite ending here.grin

AnyFucker Mon 11-Mar-13 11:52:24

I gave up on it too

A complete bore, I found

highlandcoo Mon 11-Mar-13 11:53:40

Just remember that when Hilary Mantel uses "he" she is almost always referring to Cromwell. It took me until half-way through the book to work that out and after that it got much easier.

For example, she might be describing the king in one paragraph, then in the next paragraph she starts with "He" and you assume she's still talking about the king, but it's actually Cromwell. Every time.

HTH smile

zenoushka Mon 11-Mar-13 12:08:33

Thanks all! Right off to make a cup of tea and then I'm going to see how I get on. Will keep you posted....

Magimedi Mon 11-Mar-13 12:54:32

I was really put off reading it by so amny people saying how difficult it was.

I found a copy in a charity shop so bought it, started it & virtually ignored everyone & everything for a couple of days whilst I devoured it. I was entranced from the start & just loved it.

But I do find if I make a couple of tries at a book & don't get on with it then I give up. Too many books out ther eto waste time struggling!

CharlotteBronteSaurus Mon 11-Mar-13 12:58:43

i found it hard going to get started. once i'd got my head around the "he...." business it helped. Also, I never studied this period, and it took me a while to get eg all the assorted Thomases differentiated in my head. Wikipedia helped blush.
I was gripped by the end.

alibeen Mon 11-Mar-13 13:05:34

Do stick with it, and I wouldn't say that if it wasn't one of my favourite books of all time. What's tricky is the way Thomas Cromwell is referrerd to as 'he' a lot of the time when you aren't sure who 'he' is and getting your head round the multiple characters, families and, courtiers.
I frequently had to look back through the pages to remind myself who someone was and what their allegiances were but it's worth the effort, honestly.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 11-Mar-13 13:12:49

I couldn't get on with it because I had the hardback and it was too heavy. I bought a Kindle and got it on that (such was my devotion) and I was away. Also what Highlandcoo says - if in doubt, 'he' means Cromwell.

BTW any Cromwell fans suffering from withdrawal symptoms, go to and read the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, Foreign And Domestic. It will blow your mind.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 11-Mar-13 13:13:40

I loved the story, the descriptions, but hated the way it was written in the present tense and the use of he. It's a shame, I don't hink that choice of style added anything to it, and made what could have been an amazing read into something a bit tedious.

louloutheshamed Mon 11-Mar-13 16:57:00

I have tried a couple of times too. Can I just skip it and go straight to BUTBs as I like that part of the story better?

CiderwithBuda Mon 11-Mar-13 17:04:44

I'm struggling too. My sis raved about it but I really don't like the style of writing. Maybe I'll give it another go.

StephaniePowers Mon 11-Mar-13 17:08:22

The 'he' thing is a hurdle. She wrote the next one more clearly for that reason, I believe.

It's a sensory feast, especially when he describes fabrics and textures, but also food. I know it's an author's job to describe these things but I loved the way Mantel wove everything together in the book, events and opinions and textures and smells...

zenoushka Mon 11-Mar-13 21:36:48

Update: well I have persevered and I must admit that it has got better. I've got to page 100 and am getting my head round the whole 'he' issue much better too. I wouldn't yet say I am absolutely riveted, but I no longer want to give up.

ladydepp Tue 12-Mar-13 11:04:09

It took me a while to get into it too, but I would now categorise it as one of my top 10 favourite books of all time.
I am waiting for BUTB in paperback and can't wait, might try to save it for my summer holidays.....

But hey, life is too short to waste on a book you don't like!

zenoushka Tue 12-Mar-13 11:50:02

I hate giving up on books! But you're right, life is too short. However, I must admit that reading Wolf Hall in big chunks has definitely made it easier to get into. It's definitely started to grip me.

IndridCold Tue 12-Mar-13 17:23:00

The 'He' thing is a bit strange, but once you've got to grips with it it rattles along quite quickly I found. I've just to had to explain to DH how it works.

The cast list is quite big and confusing, but compared with that of A Place of Greater Safety (which I also loved) it's an absolute doddle grin. I found that both these books really brought history alive for me.

TunipTheVegedude Tue 12-Mar-13 17:45:30

It's not Hilary's fault that everyone was called Thomas grin

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie Tue 12-Mar-13 19:08:27

I agree that the characterisation and history were enough to keep the reader interest but that the writing style got in the way of that. The use of the present tense was especially irritating to me.

I agree with PetiteR that the writing style made it a tedious read, when it could have been something really excellent.

snuffaluffagus Tue 12-Mar-13 19:17:28

I love historical novels/books but just couldn't get into wolf hall and gave up a quarter of the way in. It shouldn't be that difficult to get into a book, no matter how good it is later on.

TwentiethCenturyGirl Thu 14-Mar-13 19:43:43

Wolf Hall left me cold TBH. I read it on honeymoon and with hindsight it perhaps wasn't the most appropriate choice.

After struggling with Wolf Hall, I don't know what made me decide to read BUTB but I'm so glad that I did. Not sure how or why but I found it so much more enjoyable - I completely devoured it.

Isn't it meant to be a trilogy? I can't wait for the next one if so!

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