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  • Wolf Hall

  • The Wolf Hall Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Hilary Mantel
  • Narrated by: Ben Miles
  • Length: 25 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,122 ratings)

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Wolf Hall cover art

Wolf Hall

By: Hilary Mantel
Narrated by: Ben Miles
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Summary

Listen to the exciting new rendition of Wolf Hall, read by Ben Miles, who was personally cast by the author and played Thomas Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The winner of the Man Booker Prize and captivating first book in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy.  

Winner of the Man Booker Prize.  

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize.   

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award.  

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events.

Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.  

From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. 

With a vast array of character and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

Shortlisted for the Golden Man Booker Prize.

©2009 Hilary Mantel (P)2020 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good." (Daily Mail

"Our most brilliant English writer." (Guardian)  

What listeners say about Wolf Hall

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story but too many saliva sounds

It’s a great snapshot into history, well written story. Ben Miles is a good narrator, my only criticism is that there are extra mouth sounds and saliva noises. As it’s a long book, this got quite irritating for me when listening to the book using my headphones as the sounds were more pronounced. The only way I finished the book was listening it on a portable speaker.

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61 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Mesmerising

The best literary experience of my life to date, read or listened to. Extraordinary. I finished book 3 and went right back to the start of the trilogy

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25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent! except...

The loud smacking saliva sounds that Ben Miles can’t help making. I cringed everytime I heard them and couldn’t bear to listen to the book on my earphones. Other than that, it was a most enjoyable experience.

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21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Ben Miles is excellent

It’s no disrespect to orevious narrators to commend Ben Miles. He has the benefit of narrating the complete series, with all the insight that brings to the character of Cromwell. I can well see though, why he was Hillary Mantel’s choice.

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Honestly so lost

After around 20 odd hours of listening I feel like I have no idea what actually happened in this book, most of the characters I only vaguely know and much of this left me bored. I felt like I was having to do a lot of mental gymnastics to keep up and to stay focused enough on the story to understand the context of half the character interactions.

I personally don't particularly see the appeal to this book that has attracted so many others. I had to listen to everything on 2.3 speed just so I could finish it and get it over with.

The narration was probably the only interesting part - Miles does put a lot of effort into the different characters, but he also does a lot of lip smacking ect which can be really uncomfortable. Not a good listen for anyone with misophonia.

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16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Dense, but so worth it

Although I had to relisten to some bits as the story telling is very padded, I loved it. I have tried about 6 times to read it and just couldn't connect with it which was really disappointing. Ben Miles' has completely brought 'Wolf Hall' to life for me.

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16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Terrible story made worse by irritating narration

I managed with difficulty to get 8 hours into this, going it would get better...but it never did. A boring story was made even worse by the narrators irritating vocal habits licking his lips and clearing his throat all the time, which although subtle once heard you realised he did it all the time.

Despite trying 8 hours was all I could manage and is a wasted 8 hours that I'll never get back!

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good performance but excruciatingly dull story

Some will consider this blasphemous, however, I found this book to be dull. I’m not sure why it has such rave reviews? I read a lot of historical fiction and never before has a book presented the period as so tedious.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A Pleasant Experience.

Very much enjoyed this. I thought that the narrator, Ben Miles did a very good job. It was more like listening to a play than a book. I would certainly recommend it.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story wonderfully read

Not a great fan of tudor history, but this had me gripped. Will be listening to the entire trilogy, unless I decide to read them instead!

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6 people found this helpful