I started the lockdown by reading The Mirror and the Light, the last book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy telling the story of Thomas Cromwell, the self-made 16th century political fixer who, after overseeing Henry VIII’s marital affairs (always problematical) and the dissolution of the monasteries (seismic), gets decapitated.
Since I have known this, in outline, since schooldays, it should have been hard to maintain my interest over the 875 pages of Mantel’s final Cromwell novel, which I thought, early last year, might see me through to the end of the pandemic (pause for bitter ironic laughter).
But Mantel stays close to her protagonist, almost breathing along with him and immersed in his every thought, so when he walks to the scaffold the writer and her readers have to follow him right to the gory end. It’s an experience.
I can also recommend the best-selling Richard Osman detection novel The Thursday Murder Club. This contains a few deaths and some serious reflections on ageing but remains entirely enjoyable, which, these days, is as good as it gets.
Thank you Oliver, until next time….