Let joy be unconfined for Hilary Mantel and her second Booker prize win. I had tickets to hear her in conversation at Exeter University last week but in the end the challenge of a solo drive across the city in the rush hour and in the midst of Oz-departure week was beyond me, and I am very sorry to have missed what I am sure was a brilliant evening
My thoughts on Bring Up the Bodies here and just reading that post again reminds how superb this book and Wolf Hall are, what brillaint reads they were for me and now I want to read them both all over again...
The reader is the interloper here, the 'foreigner' whose initial presence raises suspicions, conversations might be a little guarded, information cloaked in secrecy, and the reader will need their wits about them if they are to immerse themselves invisibly into the day to day flow of things, which barely seem to have missed a stride to let them in the door. Then the task is to blend in seamlessly as part of Hilary Mantel's Tudor fabrics and furnishings, and with eyes in the back of the head just watch and listen and figure it all out as the conspiracy. the plotting and the intrigue and the fear gathers pace around them.
The secret of success, I have discovered, is to relax into the book, to feel and smell and hear it, something which Hilary Mantel makes incredibly easy as her brush moves effortlessly back and forth from the particular to the general. This world so familiar to its inhabitants must be made likewise for the reader, and once I spotted the little whispers of inclusion that were offered I was in...
...heard the rustle of the satin sleeves,
...noticed the way someone's status, upwardly mobile, is denoted by their clothing as it moves from canvas to worsted to damask,
...tasted the food... the lemon cakes flavoured with lavender, the elderflowers simmered in sugar syrup and poured over halved strawberries...noticed the primrose petal on the cheese cake.
...wandered through the noisy St George's Day celebrations with the cloth and paper dragons swaying through the streets.
...spectated and gasped as the jousting unseats yet another who has failed to break his instinct, because given a chance the that instinct will always be to swerve at the last minute.
...looked on as that minxy Anne Boleyn falls out of favour..
I can barely breath at the thought of the third book.