Wolf Hall [Audiobook Review]

Title: Wolf Hall
Author: Hilary Mantel
Narrator: Simon Slater
Genre: Historical Fictions
Pages: 604
Audio: 24.4 hours
Year: 2009
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Library
Book Rating: 2.5/5
Audio Rating: 2/5


Y’all know what this book is about so I am keeping this short: Wolf Hall chronicles the rise of Anne Boleyn and the Church of England from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell.

My Thoughts:

My goodness. This is a LONG book. And not an easy one either.

I’ve heard that the overuse of pronouns made this one difficult for some readers. For me, I think it was more the use of the present tense and the way the book is stitched together (see below).

Much of the writing is really quite exquisite. If you have the time to read it carefully. Mantel also manages to make Thomas Cromwell – usually one of the bad guys in this saga – likeable. I am by no means a Tudor expert, but I think this twist on things is what makes Wolf Hall so interesting and Mantel so talented.

Because I am not a Tudor expert, I actually gave myself a history refresher prior to finishing the last part of the book, and I think that helped a lot. If you aren’t that knowledgeable about the events in Wolf Hall, perhaps this isn’t the place to start.

My Audiobook Thoughts:

I’m not sure I would read this is in audio if I had it to do over. I found it hard to follow. I checked my print copy and realized it’s told in little vignettes, which made it difficult to follow in audio. However, I think I would have given up on this one in print, so maybe this was the way to go.

I have heard that Bring Up the Bodies is excellent in audio, however. If I read it, I probably will try the audio again.

6 thoughts on “Wolf Hall [Audiobook Review]

  1. zibilee November 26, 2012 / 11:50 am

    I loved both of these on audio, but preferred the first narrator to the second. It was a beautiful book, and one that stood out to me as a clear winner of the prize. I think she deserved it, for both of them. The second is narrated by Simon Vance, and he is excellent, but not the toothy and disenchanted narrator that I had been hoping for. You will love the second book. It’s excellent.


  2. Audra November 26, 2012 / 12:58 pm

    I’m dying to read this one — I’m not sure I could focus long enough for the audio — I’m afraid I’d lose track of the threads.


  3. papercuts1 November 26, 2012 / 2:22 pm

    Thanks for this review. I’ve wanted to listen to BRING UP THE BODIES for a while now – I’ve heard raving reviews. But I’ve wondered if I should listen to WOLF HALL first. I didn’t like the audio sample that much, and your review is confirming my doubts.
    Which means I’ll forego this one and, instead, give Simon Vance and BRING UP THE BODIES a chance soon.


  4. Kristi November 27, 2012 / 3:59 pm

    I’m more than halfway through the audio on Wolf Hall, and I’m kind of enjoying. It’s very slow and meandering, but it’s working for me. That’s a bummer that it didn’t work well for you. I like Simon Slater as the narrator. His different character voices really help with the pronoun confusion. Hopefully you’ll like Bring Up the Bodies if you go for it.


  5. Jen - Devourer of Books December 2, 2012 / 8:51 am

    I think my way of reading one section every weekend is probably the only way I got through this one even though I am very familiar with the history. Definitely a challenging read.


  6. SuziQoregon December 7, 2012 / 11:41 pm

    I really want to read this but I have a fear of big massive historical stuff on audio. I need to be able to check a family tree or look up people online in the middle of reading books like this so I’ll have to go with the print.


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