The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Like all of Mantel’s work, The Mirror & the Light is a weighty, well-researched novel.  It is the final installment in a magnificent trilogy (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) that traces the life of Tudor courtier Thomas Cromwell.  From his humble beginnings as a blacksmith’s son to his meteoric rise to the right hand of King Henry VIII, Cromwell uses his wits to ascend.  The Mirror & the Light picks up with Cromwell at the peak of his power, orchestrating Henry’s divorce and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn.  An astute politician, he is constantly proving his worth by solving problems from the mercurial king.   Numerous outside forces and difficulties shake the king’s faith in his abilities and he struggles to maintain the fragile status he has forged for his family.  The predictable outcome for disappointing a despot king is tragic.   Pair your reading with watching the wonderfully done BBC miniseries Wolf Hall for a deep dive into the danger and intrigue of Tudor court. 

Reviewed by Amy Churchill, Head of Zauel Library