Yesterday evening, after working for a few hours at a coffee shop, I decided to swing by the bookstore before I headed home. I had a gift certificate burning a whole in my purse, and I wanted to look around. Specifically, I was thinking that maybe the time had come for me to pick up a copy of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
I know everyone else has already read it and that I'm late to the party. But I hadn't picked it up yet since it's so long, I have a dissertation to write, and my dissertation is about the c18, not the c16. But, for some reason, I started to feel as if it might be time. I think part of the impulse might have come from my recent reading of Heresy by S. J. Parris (it is billed as an "Elizabethan Thriller," but I thought of it more as a historical mystery). And I guess it got me in the c16 frame of mind. It might also be that the evenings are getting colder and darker, and such a context seems fitting for a such a book.
But I had read mixed reviews of Wolf Hall, so I was hesitant to take the plunge. Most readers seem to love it, but quite a few deemed it "unreadable" because of a taxing writing style. So, when I arrived at the bookstore, I immediately texted Amstr to ask her if I'd like it. Amstr knows me very well, and she has an amazing way of remembering a lot of details about my interests and tendencies (a great quality in a friend, no?). She texted me back right away, which was fantastic because I only had about 15 minutes to spare. Here is what she said:
"Yes! I really liked it! It took a while to get into the groove of the narrative style (a weird kind of limited omniscient present tense, if I remember right). It took about 50 pages to get into it, but I'm glad I did."
I have just started the novel. I'm only about 15 pages in, but I really like it. And do you know why? Well, yes, because it's good, but I think I like it mostly because of the completely apt heads up that I got from Amstr. Since I knew what to look for in the style, and since I was assured (by someone who knows my interests well) that there would be a pay off, I wasn't thrown or confused by the POV. In fact, I was able to focus more on its benefits--the ways in which the characters and the relationships between them feel so real and alive.
So here's to good books and, even more, to good friends.