Review 1582: The Mirror and the Light

Best of Ten!
At last, Hilary Mantel has produced this long-awaited third volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, begun with Wolf Hall. One of the remarkable traits of this trilogy is that it lives fully within the thoughts of its main character, and never has a character been so thoroughly drawn.

The Mirror and the Light begins with the beheading of Anne Boleyn, which Cromwell has largely brought about at the urging of Henry VIII. Indeed, he has been avenged against most of the people who ruined his first and beloved master, Cardinal Wolsey, and Anne Boleyn was one of them.

However, his service is now devoted to that of his current master, Henry VIII. He sees that service to bring down Henry’s enemies but also to save Henry from the worst of his excesses. One of his first acts is to save Mary Tudor’s life by bringing her to obedience to her father. He also works to keep the realm within the Protestant religion. So, after the death of Henry’s third queen, Jane, following childbirth, he tries to find Henry a wife who will bring him allies from the Protestant German states. For England is alone and open to attacks from all Catholic countries.

I know my Tudor history, so I knew all along how this would end. The novels show a man who can be ruthless but who is also charitable, kind, and loyal. Not all of his cheerful, unruly household of semi-adopted sons turn out to be as loyal to him.

The last thirty pages or so of this novel had me in tears. For me, there can be no better compliment to a book.

Related Posts

Wolf Hall

Bring Up the Bodies

Queen’s Play

8 thoughts on “Review 1582: The Mirror and the Light

  1. Jane November 27, 2020 / 11:54 am

    I can’t wait to read this I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies!

  2. piningforthewest November 27, 2020 / 4:22 pm

    Having waited so long for this book to come out I bought it as soon as it was published (using a half price voucher form the Guardian) and devoured every word of it in four days or so, feeling bereft when it finished, despite obviously knowing how it would end. At some point I’m going to read the whole trilogy again, and I hardly ever do that. Mantel said she was weeping as she got towards the end of it.

    • whatmeread November 27, 2020 / 4:24 pm

      I reread books fairly often, and this trilogy will certainly be a candidate.

  3. katknit November 27, 2020 / 5:26 pm

    Have you mastered the new block editor? I hate it.

    • whatmeread November 27, 2020 / 5:29 pm

      I think I’ve mastered it, but I certainly hate it. I can’t figure out how to make my links to my own site relative, so that they don’t pingback. Before, you could edit the link, but now, it just adds the https back on no matter how many times you edit it, so that it doesn’t work because it’s not correct. So, I have to manually delete the pingbacks.

  4. Helen November 29, 2020 / 2:29 pm

    I started reading this earlier in the year but couldn’t concentrate. I’m planning to try again soon and I’m expecting to love it once I get into it!

    • whatmeread November 29, 2020 / 6:53 pm

      Earlier in the year was tough.

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