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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall is a novel about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the son of a brutal blacksmith who rose to be the chief advisor to Henry VIII. Cromwell skillfully maneuvered Cardinal Wolsey out of that position when Wolsey was unable to convince the Catholic Church to grant Henry the divorce he desired. Cromwell was ambitious, visionary, ruthless, and corrupt, but his influence over Henry helped lead England to become independent of Rome. At the height of his power, he methodically helped Henry to forge a new path for their country. His inability to provide a bride who could produce a male heir for Henry was his undoing. Hilary Mantel's novel has received a Booker nomination and positive reviews. The Observer says, "This is a beautiful and profoundly humane book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as most brilliant writers."