England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
I have had this book sitting on my shelf for a long time, waiting for the perfect rainy day to get stuck into it. I love Tudor books and thought Cromwell was a fascinating character so I was so excited by the idea of this series.
So what the heck happened??? It has been a long time since a book I wanted to read had disappointed so badly. I just find myself at a loss as to where to start in this review.
This is a book with a lot of fans and a lot of prizes and I'm hardly an expert on the English language or anything, but for me I found this to be very poorly written. The style of it was bizarre and I didn't like it at all. Cromwell speaks in an almost robotic manner, in single words rather than sentences with no flicker of emotion in his speech. It made him sound weird, and if he displays no emotion or interest then how can I warm to him or feel engaged in his story? He seemed to be going through the motions in everything he said and did, and I just found myself not that interested in him. It doesn't help that we spend a lot of time in his head as he thinks random thoughts that don't relate to the plot or add anything to it, making it seem a bit confused and pointless. Now when you have this reaction to Cromwell in a novel about Cromwell, well you have a problem!
A lot of people have mentioned their irritation at the contant use of the word 'he' instead of names. It drives me mad when two or more characters are talking and you have no idea who is saying what, and it happens a lot in this book. It is frustrating to the level of wanting to punch the book. The author must make it clear who is talking because otherwise, what is the point in writing a book? I just don't get why she chose to do it this way and confuse so many readers who just wanted to enjoy her book! There is also a lot of tell and not enough show for my liking.
That's as much as I can say about the book because I didn't get very far with it. I would read a few paragraphs, sigh, put it down, pick it up, try a page, put it down. I just could not engage with it in any way and lacked the motivation to force myself to try any more. I wanted to like this but the style it was written in was so off-putting that I won't be tackling anything else by the author.