I think this is great news for historical fiction writers like me. It’s encouraging to see a historical novel taken seriously and awarded accordingly. I am hoping that this kind of attention will help me get my humble efforts published. I like to think they’re good and stand on their own merits, but surely it can’t hurt to have a historical novel in the news.
Wolf Hall is a Tudor novel, but it apparently isn’t the bodice-buster cliche that seems to be everywhere. The Tudors are very popular right now. I love the Tudors, so I find it hard to complain, but I do roll my eyes sometimes at the way the time and place are distorted out of recognition. Take the TV show The Tudors. Wolf Hall follows Thomas Cromwell, who brought down Anne Boleyn, tried to establish Anne of Cleves, and was brought down when that failed. Naturally, there’s more to the story than that: Hilary Mantel wrote a book on him.
I haven’t read the book, but I was particularly interested in this quote from a Bookseller article:
In her account of Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power from blacksmith’s son to the righthand man of Henry VIII, Mantel has changed “that hoary old genre [historical fiction] for ever and redrawn its contours”.
I wonder what she’s done that so revolutionary? I have to admit to being a little skeptical about the claim. It’s all been done before, and surely she hasn’t shattered the genre and remade it. I am hoping that this will really put historical fiction–good, serious historical fiction–in the public eye. I feel like it’s a bit neglected. I admit that here, in the UK where I’m currently studying, historical fiction seems to get more attention.
My only reservation is that this is yet another Tudor novel, albeit a (presumably) very good one. I feel like there’s more than enough Tudor material out there to last a few decades. Can we get some ancient Babylonain fiction up in here? Maybe some American frontier fiction? Some English Civil War? Something rarely seen? Please?