Title: The Mirror and the Light
Writer: Hilary Mantel
Publishing House: Fourth Estate
Date of Publication: March 5th 2020
Rating: 5 stars
“This is what life does for you in the end; it arranges a fight you can’t win.”
Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Anne of Cleves. Three women that amply demonstrate the saturnine, obsessive and fickle nature of Henry VIII. However, in my opinion, it is the tragic figure of Thomas Cromwell that sheds light to the vast extent of the monarch’s madness and cruel, evil character. The man who shaped his ideal to restore England’s glory, the mentor, the one who managed to provide Henry with his so precious annulment. The one who looked upon the king and only saw the young boy who once was under his protection.
I don’t think there is much to say about the trilogy that was handed over to us by Hilary Mantel. The third installment concludes the tragic story of Cromwell, narrating the final four years of his life until his execution in 1540 in startling vividness and glorious characterization. Mantel gave life to one of the most controversial and fascinating political figures in British History and created a monumental work in World Literature.
Following Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, The Mirror and the Light is mandatory reading for the lovers of true Literature.
“What is a woman’s life? Do not think, because she is not a man, she does not fight. The bedchamber is her tilting ground, where she shows her colours, and her theatre of war is the sealed room where she gives birth. She knows she may not come alive out of that bloody chamber. Before her lying-in, if she is prudent, she settles her affairs. If she dies, she will be lamented and forgotten. If the child dies, she will be blamed. If she lives, she must hide her wounds. Her injuries are secret, and her sisters talk about them behind the hand. It is Eve’s sin, the long continuing punishment it incurred, that tears at her from the inside and shreds her. Whereas we bless an old soldier and give him alms, pitying his blind or limbless state, we do not make heroes of women mangled in the struggle to give birth. If she seems so injured that she can have no more children, we commiserate with her husband.”