There is no frigate like a book (1263)
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away, Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll – How frugal is the Chariot That bears a Human soul.---
The frigate Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel just rammed me head-on yesterday.
I have yet to read Wolf Hall, or any of Mantel's other books, but every single book she has written is now on my list.
Mantel has made Thomas Cromwell flesh, and not just the Machiavelli sort. He is terrifying in his single-minded service and devotion to his prince, and to England, but he is also humorous in his practicality, and tender in his personal interaction with family, and his empathy for those of lesser station.
I can't help but wonder, that for a man who sees the world clearly, how is it that he doesn't see the executioner's axe waiting for him? Wolsey fell. Anne fell. As did countless others, (and Cromwell helped them to their graves, and many times profited by it).
Cromwell is aware that the Tudor court is populated by a company of the the king's ghosts. Cromwell knows Henry better than the Tudor monarch knows himself. As a reader, you want to yell, Run, Thomas! Repeat after me: Henry VIII is a jackass.
Elizabeth I is her father's redemption.
In addition to being a frigate, a book can also be a rocking chair, a well-deserved slap or an embrace. It all depends on the book, and what you need.
Yesterday, the 16th century had much to teach me.