Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell novels seem to divide readers into those who think they’re absolutely wonderful and those who… don’t. As a member of the former camp I’m delighted that she’s won the Booker again. I have to admit, though, that I’ve never actually “read” either WOLF HALL or BRING UP THE BODIES. Instead I’ve enjoyed having them read to me while I’ve been busy doing other things.
The ‘other things’ have to be chosen with care. I once tried a long-distance drive in the company of Ian Rankin’s THE COMPLAINTS, and while the book was great, the resultant speeding ticket wasn’t. So now I reserve audiobooks for repetitive tasks not involving dangerous machinery. Thomas Cromwell has unwittingly helped to clear many piles of dirty dishes, and there’s a patch of garden at Downie Towers that I shall forever associate with the terror of young Mark Smeaton in much the same way as many of us can remember where we were when Kennedy was shot.
That, I think, is the sign of a good book.