addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwchatcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgoogleimageimagesinstagramlinklocation-pinmagnifying-glassmailminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1outlookpersonplusprice-ribbonImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruseryahoo

'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel

Our January book is 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2009. This month we're definitely making up for scrimping on the word count in December, so if you like your historical fiction served up with a lot of meat on the bone, you'll really be able to sink your teeth into 'Wolf Hall'. Right, enough bad puns, here's what readings.com.au has to say about the book...

“In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.”


Runners up this month were

'Ishmael' by Daniel Quinn

'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery

'I can jump puddles' by Alan Marshall

Join or login to comment.

  • chris t.

    Colin you know your whiskey, Laphroaig from Islay is one of the best. Cheers

    1 · January 16, 2014

  • Russell

    Thanks to Catherine for organzing and to Julia for the questions. I enjoyed the book and the discussion around the book. I have the Tudors TV series sitting on my bookshelf so might have to drag them out for a different perspective. And also put the sequel on my to read pile :) What was the name of that whiskey Colin? That might have to go in my decanter :)

    January 16, 2014

  • Catherine

    Update on the photo shoot - much to the relief of many, I suspect, the photos will not be making an appearance on meetup... due to fuzziness (and fear of reprisals) :)

    1 · January 16, 2014

  • Catherine

    Well done to everyone who turned up on such a sweltering day... it was great to chat about Wolf Hall, pleased that some members really enjoyed it. It's one I might have to revisit in a few years if I can get my historical facts straighter! Thanks to Julia for getting the discussion rolling with some stimulating questions.

    January 16, 2014

  • nat

    Even though I only read a third of this book and neither loved nor hated it, I'm glad to have satisfied the curiosity. I wish I could have participated in the discussion a bit more - those lucky dip questions seemed to be provoking interesting discussion!

    1 · January 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    good company as always.

    January 16, 2014

  • Taariq H.

    The chance to chat with people was pleasant.The book by that Mantel /mental person itself was a piece of crap. The Pizza place's menu looked expensive and the food not so flash.

    January 15, 2014

  • chris t.

    Can't see myself making it tomorrow .am working in this oppressive heat and these Scottish bones want to go and hide under a rock .will keep my name up and if I make it I make it,unless the organiser pulls rank .cheers Chris

    1 · January 14, 2014

    • Colin R.

      Might just pop down to my pool for a cool off

      1 · January 15, 2014

    • Taariq H.

      Try April or May in Pakistan or North Central India. It is 30-43 C daily and it gets hotter by June until it is pushing 47 C daily .There is no cool change. The arrival of rainy season in late June drops the temp. to 38 C daily and just makes it more humid !

      January 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Catherine, I am stuck in the State Library and it seems this is the place to come if you want to take off your shoes and stink out the joint with your smelly sweaty feet. So as a consequence I will definitely be coming to the book club tonight. Even though I havent read the damn brick.

    January 15, 2014

  • lindy

    Sorry Catherine for the late notice, stuck at work. And I read half the book :) See you next month.

    January 15, 2014

  • chris t.

    Thanks Catherine have a great night ,. Anytime Colin would like to work in 40c I can accommodate him .id love to see him by 3 pm in the afternoon !

    January 15, 2014

  • Joanne

    Sorry I cannot join you this month - YET AGAIN! I am like the Phantom member. Hopefully February will be the month!

    January 14, 2014

  • Russell

    Interesting interview with Hilary Mantel about her motivation for writing the book:

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/dec/07/bookclub-hilary-mantel-wolf-hall

    Talks about the motivation for the "he" perspective in writing and the movement between the present and the past.

    1 · January 14, 2014

  • Taariq H.

    I am struggling with this "wolf hall "book.It is very slow and unengaging The characters and events are very hard to get interested in. I think I 'd be better off reading a real History book about England from[masked] AD.

    1 · December 20, 2013

    • Colin R.

      Now I agree.

      December 26, 2013

    • Taariq H.

      yep , just because some large number of masochists read it and liked does not mean it is good even if won 10 prizes .If it wasn't on my kindle I would use a hard copy to start the campfire if I run out of firelighters made of paraffin.

      January 13, 2014

  • Bec

    I also read this in 2010, so didn't RSVP as I didn't feel I would have the time to give it the re-reading it deserves. I have been following the comments and felt I wanted to come in and defend the book. It is a little slow in parts, but worth persisting, and I think a richly rewarding read. It's meticulously researched, quite brilliantly written and Mantel really puts her reader inside Cromwell's head. I do appreciate it is not everyone's cup of tea, but I don't think it's fair to dismiss a Booker winner as trash.

    1 · December 31, 2013

    • Colin R.

      Unfortunately this us I think the third Booker prize winner that I have thought a waste of time. I will be thinking very seriously before i attempt another 1. Like they say life is too short for bad wine and stupid books.

      January 3, 2014

    • Taariq H.

      I agree!,I have just tried to read "Vernon God Little" which won the 2003 Man Booker prize. It is shallow unreadable infantile potty mouthed smart arse septic tank pop culture drivel . If any book wins a prize I am very suss about it being worth reading . I can't get the time back that I wasted on 50 pages of this Rubbish.

      January 13, 2014

  • Catherine

    BTW... remember to have a think about what you'd like to read in March, and bring along a suggestion or two to go into the draw on Wednesday night

    January 13, 2014

  • Catherine

    Here's a link to Hans Holbein's portrait of Cromwell - described in the novel at 'A Painter's Eye' (page 525 of my copy) http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/hans-holbein-the-younger/portrait-of-thomas-cromwell Interesting to contrast it with the portrait of More by the same painter http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/hans-holbein-the-younger/portrait-of-sir-thomas-more-1527

    January 13, 2014

  • Russell

    Two thirds of the way through and plan to complete for Wednesday. The style takes a little bit of getting used too but OK with it now (and found the same with Tim Winton "Eyrie"). I am enjoying it. I did some background reading (does wikipedia count). Interesting that she was bought up a Roman Catholic but states she lost her faith at age 12 and this left a permanent mark on her:

    the "real cliche, the sense of guilt. You grow up believing that you're wrong and bad. And for me, because I took what I was told really seriously, it bred a very intense habit of introspection and self-examination and a terrible severity with myself. So that nothing was ever good enough. It's like installing a policeman, and one moreover who keeps changing the law.

    Maybe why she reinterprets Thomas More (as opposed to A Man For All Seasons) and the personal religion of Thomas Cromwell seems to inform his character e.g. picking up strays and caring for them.

    1 · January 13, 2014

  • Eve

    I am only about a third way in (got distracted re-reading Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers) so will make way for someone on the waiting list! Look forward to meeting everyone at the next meeting in Feb.

    January 13, 2014

    • Catherine

      Thanks Eve, see you next time hopefully :)

      January 13, 2014

  • Catherine

    So, we're meeting at Casa Farro on Wednesday night. This is on Nicholson Street just past the junction with Johnston Street, the 96 tram will take you to the door, almost. Link: http://www.casafarro.com.au/ As usual, please remember to change your RSVP if you can't attend... it's really helpful to know for booking purposes. See you there!

    January 13, 2014

  • Catherine

    I've done it! I've made it to page 650 (ie. The End). How about everyone else? It will be interesting to hear everyone's opinions on Wed (I already get the gist of a couple ;))... Looking forward to the discussion and catch-up. By the way, don't worry if you haven't finished the book, I'm pretty sure you won't be alone and it's not obligatory in order to attend.

    1 · January 13, 2014

  • Russell

    Just started reading it after finishing another award winner - Peter Temple "Truth" (great read by the way). The writing styles are very different so have to change gears. Looking forward to the challenge :) It will be interesting to see how it intersects with the play "A Man For All Seasons" which focuses around the same era (Thomas More being centre). I saw a stage production of this a long time ago.

    1 · January 6, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Having been chastised for remarking about the naughty word early on I thought I was in for a bit of a saucy read. Alas the humour in Wolf Hall appears to escape me. I'm having trouble putting my inner bogan aside for the task of enjoying this book.

    December 28, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Taariq, the history book option is valid. I don't doubt it for a second. For me however, a reader of only a few books a year, I sense my stubbornness will prevail and I will finish it even if I only take a small fraction away of what is available.

      December 29, 2013

    • Taariq H.

      Dude don't torture yourself. Rohinton Mistry is a great novelist. This Mantel person is not.Life is too short to read rubbish.

      December 31, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I read this in 2010 and just couldn't put myself through it again! I think it was clever in parts but for me a tough read.

    December 30, 2013

  • Lee

    I'm on pg120....I think it helps that I've seen The Tudors TV series :)

    1 · December 26, 2013

  • Colin R.

    Ok. I tried. Got 13% through and then read another book for a break. Went back. Got to 15%. Then had a look at 80%. Decided the synopsis was the best part and have given it away. Didn't even get to the bit with my name in it. Pity because it sounded like a really good story just ruined with purple prose and five hundred words when five would've done.

    1 · December 26, 2013

  • Eve

    I am just LOVING the feisty, funny conversations about "Wolf Hall". I haven't started it yet and I'm really looking forward to having my own strong reaction. (I will be disappointed if I don't!) Happy Christmas and New Year reading everyone. Cheers, Eve

    1 · December 25, 2013

  • Taariq H.

    there are HUNDREDs of one star reviews on amazon dot com and they all say the same thing aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! I cannae take it no more laddy! I threw it in the bin!I feel ripped off that I paid for a kindle copy of dull, unreadable indecipherable " wolf hall."

    December 24, 2013

  • Taariq H.

    That is it!!. I have got %30 of the way through this book on a digital whatchamacallit and I cannot take it any more. I cannot take it anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. This is far from a pleasant use of of my life. I say NO MORE. This is tedious overrated drivel it works neither fiction nor as non fiction.. I officially quit reading this "Wolf Hall" now.I cannot tell you anything about the plot or or any of the characters, each page is like like reading a page of the phone book over and over again .
    I will come to the meeting if only to say this book is only good for starting fires and in case you run out of loo rolls. If you have an e book copy then oh dear. I have wasted ten shekels on buying it on a kindle copy.
    I am off to read some of Sadaat Hasan Manto's short stories in Urdu.

    December 24, 2013

  • Catherine

    Afraid I can't comment one way or the other as I haven't opened the book yet - have to get a wriggle on - but delighted to hear some strong views so far. Keep the feedback coming in, whether you're on Team Taariq or Team Mantel. Here's a link to Lisa Hill's fabulous blog where she reviews Wolf Hall
    http://anzlitlovers.com/2010/01/21/wolf-hall-by-hilary-mantel/
    (she gives it a very favourable review saying "it's a masterpiece" - just putting it out there as a contrasting opinion and also if you need some motivation to tackle this "doorstop")

    December 22, 2013

  • Eve

    Hi Catherine, very happy with $2 fee and look forward to my first bookworm event soon. Non tap dancing, Eve

    December 1, 2013

  • chris t.

    Hi Catherine , I would volunteer but alas am not allowed . 2 dollars sounds reasonable to cover your costs .

    November 27, 2013

  • Catherine

    Hi all, You may have noticed that from January there will be a $2 fee to attend each book group. No tap-dancing in return, unfortunately (unless someone wants to volunteer). This is to cover the costs of hosting the meetup page. If there is anything left over we can decide what to do with it during the year.. maybe put it towards Christmas drinks or somesuch...

    November 26, 2013

No one went

Your organizer's refund policy for 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel

Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy