THE MIRROR & THE LIGHT by Hilary Mantel was my most anticipated book of 2020. I absolutely loved the first two books in the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy and I’ve been waiting almost 8 years for this final book, so needless to say my excitement and expectations were very high! But don’t worry, it did not disappoint!
Let me just stop and say there will be “spoilers” in this review but the events are HISTORY and happened almost 500 years ago so it really shouldn’t be a surprise! The first two books in the trilogy depict Thomas Cromwell’s rise from the son of a blacksmith to chief advisor to King Henry VIII, the creation of the Church of England, and Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the beheading of Anne Boleyn. THE MIRROR & THE LIGHT details Henry’s continued quest for a male heir and Cromwell sowing the seeds of his downfall. Though Cromwell rises to his most powerful in this book like anything involving the mercurial King Henry, fortune can shift quickly. The saga ends as we all knew it would: with Cromwell’s execution. But what is brilliant is how Mantel makes the inevitable still so thrilling!
THE MIRROR & THE LIGHT is very reflective. Cromwell is now middle aged and looks back on the events of his life, which sets the perfect tone for the ending to this trilogy. As well, this book finally brings the birth of a male heir to the throne. It’s taken Henry 3 wives and us 3 books to get here and Mantel expertly portrays the sense of buildup and importance of the achievement. Like we have come to expect the writing is vivid, rich, AND dense. Not a bit of detail is spared. And I’ll be honest, my mind did wander at times and I mixed up some characters! But if you loved the rest of the trilogy like me, you will savor the story and mourn its end.
This trilogy is the gold standard for historical fiction. The sense of urgency and modernity that Mantel injects into this centuries old story is exceptional. THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT is the spectacular conclusion to this groundbreaking saga!
** Henry Holt Books and Co provided the book for honest review.
** And yes, those are decorative mugs of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn! : )
- Title: The Mirror & The Light
- Author: Hilary Mantel
- Published: March 10, 2020 (Henry Holt Books and Co)
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * * *