Thursday, 17 February 2011
At the beginning of the novel, fortunately, we are given a list of the numerous characters. Obviously one wouldn't forget people like the King and his Queens, but I found I needed the memory check for some of the others.
The novel is told in the present tense, which I don't always care for, but have to admit that it added immediacy. One felt one was there in Tudor times in Cromwell's house, and that the characters didn't know what was going to happen next even if you, the reader, did. But what did irritate me was the fact that the author almost always referred to Cromwell as 'he', rather than by his name, so one had to keep reading back to see which 'he' she meant. This quirk, plus all the characters and time-changes - and my general exhaustion with pup at present - contributed to making this 650-page epic a slow read. But I admire the author's tour de force and indeed I ended up much admiring Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith's son who rose to high offices of state. Will I read the sequel, yes I will, even though I know it will end badly.
Here's a Guardian review.