From the Publisher:
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland 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. The quest for the king's freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, 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? In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.England 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 Catholic Europe oppose him. The king's quest for freedom destroys his advisor, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and creates a years-long power struggle between the Church and the Crown. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell, a wholly original man, both a charmer and a bully, an idealist and an opportunist: Cromwell is a consummate politician, hardened by years abroad and his personal losses. Implacable in his ambition and self-taught, Cromwell soon becomes the country's most powerful figure after Henry. When Henry pursues his desire to marry AnneBoleyn, it is Cromwell who breaks the deadlock and allows the king his heart's desire.
Hilary Mantel was the oldest child of Irish Catholic immigrants. Educated at a convent school, she also studied law at the London School of Economics. Instead of practicing law, however, she became a social worker and then realized that what she really wanted to do was write. She has lived in Africa and in Saudi Arabia, the settings for various of her novels. In 1987 she was awarded the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. In addition to writing fiction, Mantel also writes book reviews and short stories. Married to a geologist, Mantel has no children: misdiagnosed in her youth, she was finally proved to have endometriosis, which made her infertile--a condition that, she says in her autobiography published in 2003, has been one of the vital and devastating facts of her life. WOLF HALL, Mantel's captivating fictional revision of the life of Thomas Cromwell, won her the 2009 Man Booker Prize.