Not so long ago I asked Zouroudi about what she was reading. Her reply:
Though I've come very late to this particular party, I'm reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. It's a book I've considered reading for some time, but whilst the subject matter (political intrigue at the court of Henry VIII) interests me, I've suffered disappointment many times from books so heavily hyped, especially, I'm sorry to say, when it comes to winners of the Booker Prize. But when the sequel Bring up the Bodies also won the Booker, I began to feel more and more I might be missing out, so - still reluctant to pay out hard cash for what I feared might turn out to be another Booker turkey - I borrowed Wolf Hall from the local library.Visit Anne Zouroudi's website and blog.
And you know what? I think it's a triumph. Many of the players, of course, are hard-wired into that tumultuous period of 16th-century English history, and their names have been known to me since my schooldays. But in Wolf Hall, it's like having a spot-light shone onto a dark stage. Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, the spoilt, capricious king - these historical figures live and breathe through the minutiae of their imagined lives.
The writing is beautiful, too. The prose is elegant but not stuffy, descriptive but not flowery, and that's a difficult trick to pull off. It's a lengthy novel, but of such excellent quality, I pick it up with anticipation, rather than with that feeling of dutifulness which too often accompanies the reading of 'big' books.
The ultimate compliment from me is that it's one of those relatively rare books I wish I'd written myself. And I'm looking forward to the sequel, for which I shall very happily pay cash.