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  • Wolf Hall

  • The Wolf Hall Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Hilary Mantel
  • Narrated by: Ben Miles
  • Length: 25 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,188 ratings)

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Wolf Hall cover art

Wolf Hall

By: Hilary Mantel
Narrated by: Ben Miles
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Summary

Listen to the exciting new rendition of Wolf Hall, read by Ben Miles, who was personally cast by the author and played Thomas Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The winner of the Man Booker Prize and captivating first book in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award.

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events.

Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics.

With a vast array of character and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

Shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize.

©2009 Hilary Mantel (P)2020 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good." (Daily Mail)

"Our most brilliant English writer." (Guardian)

What listeners say about Wolf Hall

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  • Overall
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Fantastic novel

About 15 hours in, I got the ick from the narrator licking his lips… not great for someone autistic

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Ben Miles narration is outstanding

Ben Miles’ narration is brilliant, such an enjoyable listen and brought so much aliveness to the words

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First Class

Very insightful and thought provoking. I thought King Henry sounded very weak voiced, but that would be up to the narrator, who I thought was first class. A great story, thoroughly recommend this title.

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A work of genius

Absolutely adored Ben Miles’ delivery and performance. (Maybe a bit more distinction between men and women is needed ?) But Mantel was a true steward of the written word and this book is essential reading.

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Wolf, Hall , fantastic

Absolutely love this story got me hooked from the first chapter didn’t want it to end Hilary Mantel really places you in the middle of the action transport you back in time

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amongst the horror there is much humour!

I love being immersed in their daily lives. They were hard times but life went on.

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Best audible I’ve ever listened to (three times)

The story is engaging, well written, reportedly well researched and the delivery is beyond superb.
I have hundreds of audible titles in my library, but I keep coming back to this trilogy time and time again. The story is less ‘read’than ‘performed’ and buy one of the nations best actors too. What more could you want?

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A living, breathing Cromwell & Royal Court!

Having studied, be it long ago, the period, and remained fascinated with the time of Henry VIII, it's a pleasure to be immersed in a fictionalised account of Thomas Cromwell, one where known history is brought alive and fleshed out with the daily lives of Tudor England's rich & poor & pious.
In Wolf Hall, the title part reference to Wulfhall, the seat of the Seymour family and part an allusion to the old Latin saying "A man is a wolf to another man" [meaning by nature opportunistic, predatory, untrustworthy] "he", Cromwell starts his accent, navigation along a perilous path. He recalls his humble beginnings in Putney with his brutal blacksmith father, recounts his time with Cardinal Wolsey, the love & loss of his wife & daughters from the 'sweating' sickness, his subsequent home life and his rise to power & money thanks to Henry's favour and "born tricky", his own clever mind.
The late Hilary Mantel's beautifully descriptive writing breaths life into the royal court, into the proponents of the religious, political & marriage machinations surrounding Henry that led to the break from Rome, the King becoming the Head of the Church of England rather than the Pope. Anne Boleyn & her sister Mary, Katherine of Aragon & Mary Tudor, King Henry, Cranmer, Thomas Moore, the Seymours and the members of Cromwell's own household all have a voice, are seen through his often amused eyes.
This is no frothy historical novel, but one wonderfully rich in atmosphere & detail, a worthy winner of literary accolades.

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Simply and Totally Magnetic

Do try to make the time and read and/or listen to ‘Wolf Hall’. My paper copy of ‘Wolf Hall’ has sat on my shelves since 2009. I reasoned it was an important book and needed to be read. The size of the public and critics’ acclaim for the novel, however, tended to put me off reading it long back then. I also bought the Simon SIater voiced audio-book and that did not hit the spot for me, so the book remained unread and un-heard. Only in 2021 did I choose to read and listen and it felt so right, and deeply enjoyed it. I say ‘enjoyed’ which is odd to say given the plot and the history that most all know. What I found was rare for me in a book; I felt that I was being dragged as if by a powerful magnet through it. Almost against my will. The performance of the later audiobook with Ben Miles contributed to the experience massively. He fits the book (and dramatisations) so well. Cromwell if nothing if not an enigma. I kept asking myself, why with your brain can’t you see it best to flee and get far away? Cromwell’s care for his own and his care for some others was a helpful take on things for me. Having been steeped since the 1970s on an image of Thomas More of the Robert Bolt interpretation, Mantel’s More was a helpful adjustment. Mantel’s narrative is rich and involving her words given to others so well placed in their mouths. If I have any quibble it is managing to keep the characters and their relationships (blood and other) in my head. This is my weakness. I appreciated that Mantel ensures that Cromwell fails to see some things close to him, and loved the last few paragraphs of the book. They answered the question I had been asking throughout. Some readers/listeners may not like the way the Cromwell is referenced as ‘he’ in the narrative. It does makes full sense and rings true. Now read, I am still puzzling over the book. It deserves it.

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fantastic

I love this book more than I can say. The narration for me is perfect

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