I finally finished my 4th of July rolls, and will be rolling again this morning, but I have to set down a few thoughts about this book.
I'm not sure that I liked it quite as much as Wolf Hall, at least for the first 3/4, but holy cow, the last 75 pages or so was just amazing. Even though I know how Anne Boleyn died, the unfolding of it was breathtakingly, heartstoppingly suspenseful. How did Mantel make an event that everyone knows about so devastating?
I mean, I didn't even like Anne Boleyn very much, and she is a very complicated historical figure, but that was not a trial. It was a murder. She was murdered. There was so little evidence to suggest that she was guilty of any of the things she was accused of, and the trumped up, convenient nature of the entire thing - from poor Mark Weston to the rest of the men to Anne herself - is just appalling. Henry VIII was a piece of self-centered shit.
And Cromwell? Well, again, he's a complicated historical figure, but his part in that whole farce was unforgivable. Although, presumably, he'll get his in book 3.
If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Especially if you are working for King Henry VIII.