Wolf Hall Companion by Lauren Mackay

Genre: History,  nonfiction
Publisher: Pavilion Books
Pub date: 3 September 2020
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

An accessible and authoritative companion to the bestselling Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel, published after the third and final book, The Mirror and the Light.

Wolf Hall Companion gives an historian’s view of what we know about Thomas Cromwell, one of the most powerful men of the Tudor age and the central character in Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy.

Covering the key court and political characters from the books, this companion guide also works as a concise Tudor history primer. Alongside Thomas Cromwell, the author explores characters including Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cranmer, Jane Seymour, Henry VIII, Thomas Howard, Cardinal Wolsey and Richard Fox. The important places in the court of Henry VIII are introduced and put into context, including Hampton Court, the Tower of London, Cromwell’s home Austin Friars, and of course Wolf Hall. The author explores not only the real history of these people and places, but also Hilary Mantel’s interpretation of them.

Included in the book are also incisive features on various aspects of Tudor life, from the court scene and the structure of government, to royal hunting and hawking, Renaissance influences and Tudor executions.

A beautiful and insightful book, Wolf Hall Companion will enrich the reading of the Mantel novels but also provides an incisive and concise understanding of the reign of Henry VIII, and the profound changes it brought to English life.

Illustrated throughout with woodcut portraits, maps and family trees and with a beautifully produced cover – this companion guide is a must-have for any discerning Wolf Hall and Tudor fan.

Having read Mantel’s trilogy and watched the TV series countless times I was very enthusiastic about this book. For those of us who love the books or even if you’re just a fan of the TV show this book is the perfect companion.

The author, Lauren Mackay is a historian of Early Modern Europe and the author of a couple of books delving into the life and times of the Tudor court, making her an ideal author for this book.

Although I have read the trilogy I do not think you have to in order to read and enjoy this.

The book is made up of short chapters focusing on individuals, events and places such as some of the palaces and provides a brief overview of each relevant to the trilogy.

Mackay explores the individuals, places and events and also a couple of people who don’t feature in the trilogy. It was interesting to read some of the instances where Mantel has used creative license and what the true events/ circumstances were.

This is the ideal guide to the trilogy but also fantastic as a guide to the who’s who of the Tudor court and the major events during the reign of Henry VIII. Mackay assesses where Mantel has woven fiction into history and where possible delivers the true events. I also found it of interest that Mackay provides information on what happened to some of the palaces such as Nonsuch Palace.

Quotes from the trilogy appear throughout and I found these have made me want to read and watch it all again!

Family trees are presented throughout in beautiful illustrations making it clear who is who and where marriages occurred. There are also beautiful woodcut illustrations throughout including some spectacular Tudor roses, falcons and pomegranates.

The biography is the perfect list of further reading and has added so many books to my expanding TBR list!

I thoroughly enjoyed this and am now off to binge watch Wolf Hall!

Thank you to NetGalley and Pavilion Books for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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