Monday, 21 June 2010

Quote: King of all the roses

For the last few months, when it came time to document 'My Month in Numbers' I've made mention of my progress in reading Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize winning novel Wolf Hall. Progress. Such sloooooooow progress that I'm rather ashamed of myself ... I'm still not even a third of the way through after three months ... and I daren't add it to my list of numbers yet again this month!

It's not that I don't enjoy reading it, or that it's not my kind of book. I do and it is ... it's just that I've been slacking.

Blogging, crafting and sleeping have eaten into my reading time ... a lapse which I must rectify because, when I do make the effort to sit and read Wolf Hall[oh, OK then, it's often more like I make the effort to lay and read Wolf Hall] I am overwhelmed by the quality of the writing and the freshness and originality of Mantel's descriptive prose. Prose like this .....

"It is June, 1527; well barbered and curled, tall and still trim from certain angles, and wearing white silk, the king makes his way to his wife's apartments. He moves in a perfumed cloud made of the essence of roses: as if he owns all the roses, owns all the summer nights."

Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall

After reading a passage as exquisite as that [and the 650 page novel is filled with such gems] I often stop to pause. I pause ... then I re-read it tracing my finger over every inch of it trying to uncover the source of it's genius ... most likely with my mouth open and my tongue poking out in concentration ... then I'll emit a sigh of approval usually accompanied by a slow shake of the head at its cleverness.

Next, after a few tours around it's construction I'll prod James and read it aloud to him just to share my latest treasure. He'll then say something pacifying such as 'Yes, very good' ... I'll say 'How do people write like that?' and then dreamily return to the book...

... and if I was looking for a further explanation for my paltry reading record of late, I'd say that when you're going through that rigmarole every few pages ... well, how can I be expected to power through 650 of them in a few days??

Well, that's my excuse anyway ......


Photo details: A rose in the gardens of Newby Hall June 09.


  1. It's also very heavy for reading in bed. Not as in heavy-going, but as in I'm too tired to hold this book up and I'm going to go to sleep instead. But I loved it too.

  2. Thank you Julie for putting into such eloquent words the very reason I too am unable to progress with Wolf Hall.

    It is the first time in life that I've been able to, had to, read two fiction books at one, the other being a collection of short stories, light frothy stuff that rests my mind from all the literary greatness of Mantel's prose.

    That and crafting!

  3. Thank-you for the intro to Mantel's prose. I am feeling I ought to give it a go, perhaps ... I liked your photo better than M's description, though. Does that make me a Philistine?

  4. Julie!! It's or Its!?

    clearly its very late... ;o)

  5. Isn't it though Sian??? I tend to prop it up on the pillow!

    Shirley - what a lovely compliment. Thank you very much.

    Alexa - the last thing you are is a Philistine!!! But I am glad you liked my photo ... I think I impressed myself with that one!

    Sarah - I guess I'm just glad it wasn't a post on spelling! You are now my official proof reader!

  6. Books like that are always a treasure to find.


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