Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall
Fourth Estate, 2009

With a Big Book like this one, everything to do with reading is More. And, so, I have resisted reading this one MORE determinedly than any of the other books on this year’s Orange Prize list.

This despite having heard Hilary Mantel read the opening passages in a podcast many months before the prizes started rolling in, despite having found myself completely swept into the tale with only a few pages read in her voice.

This despite an overblown fascination with English history some years ago that found me reading countless novels, everything from Jean Plaidy to Rosalind Miles, dated ’50s bookclub editions alongside more serious tomes shelved in the women’s bookstores I frequented.

But I finally started reading this over the long weekend and it’s far more inviting than I would have guessed.

So far I am enjoying the style, the rhythm of the prose, which seems to suit the historical setting. And a couple of passages near the beginning caught my eye for their simple beauty and effectiveness (can’t you feel that sea, hear that sigh?).

“…his first sight of the open sea: a grey wrinkled vastness, like the residue of a dream.” [Cromwell]

“He makes a great, deep, smiling sigh, like a leopard settling in a warm spot.” [Wolsey]

But, since then, I must have gotten caught up in the story itself; I’m 120 pages into the novel and haven’t made a note since page 19.

I know a lot of people have already read and raved about this book; I’m planning to finish reading this for my last Orange Monday, two days before the 2010 Orange Prize is awarded: what do you think I should be watching for, taking notes about? Or should I just continue to enjoy the story?

On Mondays and Thursdays, until the 2010 Orange Prize is announced,
I am Buried In Print. 14 bookchatted here, 3 to come, 3 missed.