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Mantel’s final Cromwell novel is superbly accomplished—but ultimately wearying

Even admirers of Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy may find it hard to reach the end of the 900-page finale

By Freya Johnston   April 2020

Hilary Mantel writes history in the present tense. History, in other words, which is both present and tense. “We are trapped in the hour we occupy,” says Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, early in the course of this prodigious piece of verbal and visual fretwork; “it is the present you must reckon with,” as Thomas Cromwell menacingly or perhaps merely sensibly advises her in a later exchange. Characters are ensnared in webs…

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