Last night I finished reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel -- an historical novel set in Henry VIII's kingdom in the 16th century.
Mantel casts Thomas Cromwell as the main character, giving us a chance to view the king, his wives and his courtiers from a perspective that is unique. Cromwell is lowborn, but rises to the second highest position in England -- an outsider, surely, but with a view to the inside. The characters are accessible -- including the king who appears as a mere mortal despite his position and power.
I must admit, I had a difficult time getting into the book -- the style is a bit different and without any knowledge of British history from this time period, I was lost. Gradually I was sucked into the lives of the characters and I read the last half of the book in a fraction of the time that it took me to read the first chapters.
This book has won the 2009 Man Booker Prize and I believe it is well deserved. If you like historical fiction, give this book a read -- just prepare to give it some time, as it might take you a while to adjust to Mantel's unique writing style.