Latest Issue

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect