Sovereign [London: Macmillan, 2006] is book three of the now six-book Shardlake series from the enterprising pen of C J Sansom and it matches up in every way to the others I have read. I still have to get through five and six but I have a feeling I shall do so later this year. I’m hooked. Shardlake’s death-defying adventures are more than just an antidote for those still waiting for Hilary Mantel’s third volume about which I see no convincing rumours on the web.
The provocative title of Hilary Mantel’s recent collection of short stories is what may attract some readers to the book but ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’ is the final story in a splendid set of ten that each repay close reading. Short stories are like chamber music, or perhaps Lieder, as compared to symphonies or operas as long as a novel. The jewel-like compression of the structure, exposition and development into only a few pages, means that every note Mantel strikes has to have been chosen with great deliberation.
Theatre-going book lovers have three wonderful novels they should be reading over the next two or three months, in anticipation of forthcoming stagings at the RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon and The Orange Tree, Richmond.
Over the years, many books and films have been successfully or otherwise adapted for the theatre. As long as we remember that, in a different medium, the story becomes a different work of art
In my 2012 list of best reads of the year, I’ve reached number 9, which is Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. For Mantel fans, who are many, this was eagerly awaited and, for those who enjoyed Wolf Hall, it was the sort of sequel we had all hoped for. Justifiably, it won its author a second Booker Prize and set readers wondering not only when the promised third volume will appear but whether Mantel might even win again. (My bookmaker is not taking bets.) You can find extended reviews elsewhere so I am concentrating on my views.