Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Award Winning New Book on the Tudors!

Not long ago, I'd read that publishing companies had to put an embargo on historical fiction involving the Tudors. With the success of Philippa Gregory, authors the world over flooded the market with their spin on Henry and his six wives. Despite the renewed interest in the Tudors, publishers felt that there just weren't enough interested readers to support the number of books being written.

Taking this into consideration, it is even more of an accomplishment that a book on the Tudors has just won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for fiction. The Man Booker Prize, first awarded in 1969, promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year and this year's prize went to Hilary Mantel for her novel "Wolf Hall."

In the same way that "A Man For All Seasons" told the Tudor story by looking at Sir Thomas More's life, "Wolf Hall" gives us yet another view of King Henry VIII's "Great Matter"; this time by focusing on Thomas Cromwell. The story takes us through Cromwell's humble upbringing, abuse at the hands of his father, his rise as Cardinal Wolsey's protege, and eventual stardom at court as King Henry VIII's right-hand man. Mantel does not take us through his fall, as the novel closes with the execution of Henry's prior right-hand man, Sir Thomas More.

I have not yet read "Wolf Hall," so I am not trying to give it a favorable review or a recommendation with this post. I do, however, look forward to reading the book after the positive review in the NY Times and now the Man Booker Prize. What's clear is that although the story may be worn a bit thin, Mantel has found an award-winning new way of telling it.

More good news for my fellow voracious Tudor readers: Hilary Mantel is currently working on the sequel. (Although it took her five years to write Wolf Hall - so we must be patient!)

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