I mentioned after I finished reading Bring Up The Bodies, that I’d go back and try Wolf Hall again and I’m glad I did because this time I loved it. I know it’s a little odd reading the middle book of a trilogy first and then reading the first but in this case I think it worked quite well, reading Wolf Hall was almost literally like reading the back story to Bring Up The Bodies because so much of Bring Up The Bodies is about Cromwell’s revenge for the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey and the downfall of the Cardinal takes up a large part of Wolf Hall. And whereas Bring Up The Bodies tackles the downfall of Anne Boleyn and Wolf Hall the rise of Anne Boleyn, you can spot the early seeds of her end even at the beginning of the trilogy.
Wolf Hall is far more wide ranging than Bring Up The Bodies (which is what I think originally put me off the book) but you learn far more about Cromwell’s early years and he is even more of a hero of mine now, a blacksmith’s son, in a land where it wasn’t what you could do, it was what family you were from, so despite his beginnings he rose to power against all odds, to be at the right hand side of the king.
And so much of what happened then, 500 years ago, seems familiar to now; climate problems affecting food prices, xenophobia, problems in Europe tied with an increasing need for the banking power of Europe, questions over how much the church should have a say in the state and of course pomp and ceremony.
I particularly liked the bits with Thomas More in, but that’s more for a family reason, as Mr. Lacer’s family is related to him by marriage (an ancestor of Mr. Lacer married Thomas More’s older sister), so when I got to the family scenes in the More household, it was nice to imagine a distant relative of Mr. Lacer lurking round the corner. Not that he featured in the book or anything nor would he have been that likely to I think because some reading I’ve done online suggests that More wasn’t particularly nice to this particular brother-in-law (not that More was particularly nice to most people). Although further ancestral ego surfing suggests Mr. Lacer’s relative wasn’t all sweetness and light either, I found a letter from him to Thomas Cromwell, written two days after the arrest of Henry Norris (accused of adultery with Anne Boleyn), the gist of the letter being ‘when you kill Henry Norris please bear me in mind because I live quite close to him and wouldn’t mind some of his estate, as I, after all, have 14 children to feed’, you could politely say, I guess, that he was quick off the mark.
Right, off to read more Tudor stuff.