4.5 / 5
"'So now get up.'"
Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
Looking back, I probably shouldn't have audiobooked this novel. The narrator was really great, don't get me wrong, but I could really have used the index in the front of the book which lists all of the names, relationships, and titles for the characters in the book. What a complicated & complex read! Gentry at that time went by so many different titles and names that it was difficult to remember who was who.
However, despite even that frustration, I really enjoyed this book! Who knew that Thomas Cromwell's story would be so interesting? I knew the story of the Boelyns and all of the intrigue that went along with that, but I had no idea of the extent of Cromwell's involvement, both with the church (his patron Cardinal) and the king and both of the Boelyn women. I love when an author can liven up history for me like this; I almost felt as if I was reading a fantasy tale, it was that enjoyable. While there were of course slower moments that dragged a bit (what would you expect from sometimes dry history?) and there honestly wasn't much action to speak of, the book was engaging because of its cast of characters, most especially those who lived under Cromwell's roof, I thought. I rooted for all of the children he raised, both his own and those he adopted.
I am no history buff, so I cannot speak to the truth of this story, but it does appear the author had done extensive research in preparation for this novel. In any case, whatever the series' level of truthiness, I look forward to reading further with Bring Up the Bodies.
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