It took some time to get used to the style of this narrative. The story is told in the present tense, and the voice of the narrator seems to drift constantly between Cromwell's first person (almost stream of conscience) to a third-person omniscient who confusingly calls everyone "he." Most of the time, "he" is Cromwell, but it's a distraction, or perhaps Mantel means for you to read some passages twice. The present tense is an interesting way to remind the reader that while these events are now dusty old history that everyone knows, at the time it must have been like trying to ride out an earthquake. Luckily, Cromwell is just the man for that. Shrewd and calculating, brilliant, unafraid of change, you could have guessed all that from the facts. But Mantel softens the portrait of Cromwell with such tenderness towards his family, loyalty to Wolsey, and overall sympathy for almost anyone in a pitiable position. It's hard not to like this Cromwell and be on his team. In a reversal, Sir Thomas More comes off like a self-righteous prig. Of course, as with every time I read any historical fiction, I couldn't go a few pages without thinking, but is that *really* how it would have happened? I'm always wondering how it measures up to the real deal. I'm still not sure, but this
helped, and there are plenty of straight histories to read after all. I'll definitely read the sequel. I know what happened to the real Cromwell, but I want to see how it happens to Mantel's Cromwell.