Per recommendation of a friend working in a Waterstones bookshop in England, I acquired this book about six years ago. That did not turn out well at all, as I absolutely disliked this book after reading the first bit of it only. I was in a different frame of mind, I heard myself yelling inwardly: pray just write straightforwardly what you want to say and do not encode the story with so many layers and complications. I honestly could not cope with this book for more than a dozen pages or so. It was abandoned.
I have no idea why recently I dug it out from the shelf and wanted to give it another go. It might have something to do with some political struggles that I observed and it reminded me of Thomas Cromwell. It might not. Random things happen, and beauty sometimes arises.
This book has been an intriguing read. I do not read novels much these days. Reading fictions feel like a sinful luxury now. What I get from this book is Cromwell. However history judges Cromwell, he certainly has earned my respect given Hilary Mantel’s portrait of him in this book. The book certainly left me craving more from Anne Boleyn’s perspectives. I have not read the first of the trilogy: Wolf Hall, yet. I am not ready to read another fiction and commit another sin yet.
I have had a very slowly developed pleasure of reading this book. To me, it is certainly not one of those books that I fall for right away and talk to everyone how marvelous it is. Be patient with it, if you decide to read it.
Full bellies breed gentle manners. The pinch of famine makes monsters.
You can be merry with the king, you can share a joke with him. But as Thomas More used to say, it’s like sporting with a tamed lion. You tousle its mane and pull its ears, but all the time you’re thinking, those claws, those claws, those claws.
What is the nature of the border between truth and lies? It is permeable and blurred because it is planted thick with rumour, confabulation, misunderstandings and twisted tales. Truth can break the gates down, truth can howl in the street; unless truth is pleasing, personable and easy to like, she is condemned to stay whimpering at the back door.
The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.
He once thought it himself, that he might die of grief: for his wife, his daughters, his sisters, his father and master the cardinal. But the pulse, obdurate, keeps its rhythm. You think you cannot keep breathing, but your ribcage has other ideas, rising and falling, emitting sighs. You must thrive in spite of yourself; and so that you may do it, God takes out your heart of flesh, and gives you a heart of stone.
once you have exhausted the process of negotiation and compromise, once you have fixed on the destruction of an enemy, that destruction must be swift and it must be perfect. Before you even glance in his direction, you should have his name on a warrant, the ports blocked, his wife and friends bought, his heir under your protection, his money in your strong room and his dog running to your whistle. Before he wakes in the morning, you should have the axe in your hand.
There is a pause, while she turns the great pages of her volume of rage, and puts her finger on just the right word. ‘What you say, Cromwell, is…contemptible.’
But remember this above all: defeat your instinct. Your love of glory must conquer your will to survive; or why fight at all? Why not be a smith, a brewer, a wool merchant? Why are you in the contest, if not to win, and if not to win, then to die?
Summer, 1536: he is promoted Baron Cromwell. He cannot call himself Lord Cromwell of Putney. He might laugh. However. He can call himself Baron Cromwell of Wimbledon. He ranged all over those fields, when he was a boy. The word ‘however’ is like an imp coiled beneath your chair. It induces ink to form words you have not yet seen, and lines to march across the page and overshoot the margin. There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one.