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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When will the protagonist (Cromwell) do something?: Wolf Hall

I'm kinda stumped, without a lot to say right now about "Wolf Hall," and about 400 pages ahead of me. As I noted in my post yesterday, Wolf Hall is an exemplary piece of historical fiction in that it really does have a literary style and it conveys historical events through well-crafted scenes, all involving the central character, Thomas Cromwell, sometimes in private conversation with his (first) patron/boss, Cardinal Wolsey, sometimes in family or domestic conversation. Good, because we don't have the long re-creations of well-known historical events, nor do we have lengthy monologues or stagy dialogues that serve no purpose but to disgorge exposition ("As you know, Thomas, the Duke of Somerset was the youngest son of the bastard king ... "). That's all to the good, but at about 100 pages I don't entirely find myself engaging with Cromwell, either. I see that he's a tough guy, raised as a brawler on the streets, who's become a shrewd lawyer and counselor (to Wolsey). The two of them have engaged in some extensive discussion about Henry VIII - his womanizing, his quest for a male heir/son, his desire to dump first wife, Katherine of Aragon, for new wife, Anne Boleyn - and how this places a special demand on the church, which is not keen on nullifying longterm marriages, especially if that means declaring the children (daughters) to be bastards. I assume the book might pick up when the protagonist, Cromwell, actually has to do things - right now, he just talks with Wolsey. The writing is really sharp, and I know it would translate well to BBC, maybe already has.

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