There were brief moments in this book where I was genuinely transported, feeling like I was actually standing next to Cromwell on the water steps watching the sun glitter on the Thames, or sitting in the chill of his study listening to the bustle of a busy household on a winter afternoon. Those moments were beautiful. They just didn't connect up into enough of a whole to make this more than a three star book for me.
I suppose its pretty hard to tell a story so well known and find something fresh to say about it. It was an interesting idea to tell it all in present tense, and almost entirely through the eyes and thoughts of Cromwell. It was a fresh approach and like I say, on a few occasions it did manage to transport me. But a lot of the time it felt a bit Rosencrantz and Guildensternish to me. Like, great events are happening somewhere off stage, and I'm listening to Cromwell argue with Wolsey's tailor about whether or not he used the right velvet.
I will give credit where credit is due, the history is accurate. Not a lot of liberties taken here, and there are some interesting viewpoints on some of the characters. More comes off as less of a saint than he's often portrayed, and I think that's fair enough. Still not entirely successful from my point of view. Oh also, if you don't know very much about the reign of Henry VIII you might find it confusing.