Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Tudors

I'd never heard of Hilary Mantel until she was a question (twice) in our weekly on-line trivia game.  She won a Man Booker award for each of the first two novels in her trilogy about the court of Henry VIII.  Embarrassed that I was unaware of a literary giant, I downloaded the first  book from Kindle Unlimited and requested the second two from the library, in hard cover.

They are 600 and 700 pages, and more; while the books were heavy, it was easier than scrolling through it on my screen.  I read most of Wolf Hall on Lenore the Lenovo, sitting at my desk like an 18th century schoolkid, reading by sunlight.  The find feature was really helpful since I knew absolutely nothing about the Tudors, despite having taken a course on them from the Humanities Seminars.  (I won't link to it because it was awful and I don't want to smear what is otherwise a wonderful program).  

There's a cast of characters in the front of the book, to which I returned much too often for fluidity's sake.  That may have contributed to my mixed feelings about it, although the fact that Ms Mantel refers to Thomas Cromwell, around whom the plot (and the Court) revolves, as he had a lot to do with it.  I was constantly confused about who was saying or doing what. 

But I plowed on. Bring Up the Bodies raced by like a modern crime novel, though one with the touch of a bodice ripper.  I  was two thirds through the trilogy with only two wives gone; the last book, The Mirror and The Light, is less about Henry and more about Cromwell.  It is intimate, inward looking, reflective, where the first two books were outward facing, setting the stage for what was to come.  I have been thinking about it since I finished the last page this morning.  

It's revealing more and more about itself.  It's left me hungry for more - from this author, sure, but more about the history itself.  TBG and I watched Young Bess last night, and I was able to fill in some historical gaps that would otherwise have confused me.  The movie filled in where the book left off, and though both are fiction I woke up this morning feeling like I knew a little bit about the lives of the last of the Tudors.  

See that?  I now know that Henry VIII's offspring were the last three Tudor rulers of England.

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