|Carlisle - Gatehouse|
I know reading is a subjective thing and all sorts of prejudices come between the written word and the readers' eyes, but in my view Mantel is a cut above other writers of historical fiction in this country today. You may disagree with me, and I haven't even read Bring up the Bodies yet, but I have just finished Gregory's Lady of the Rivers (the one about Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford) and it makes an interesting contrast to Wolf Hall.
Gregory's prose is workmanlike, journalistic even; she explains clearly, but there is a distinct lack of originality in the way she strings her words together. The sentences are smooth, but in no way lyrical. Her style works, no doubt about it; the stories are told, her sales are phenomenal and people wait anxiously for the next new work.
But Mantel's prose is so very different. Lyrical, yes, thoughtful, yes, and certainly original. Anyone who looks for literary skill as well as a good story, will enjoy Mantel. Those who simply want a good story, without frills and not requiring them to think too much, will no doubt prefer Gregory. Horses for courses? Of course. We all know what we like, and why.
I went on a trip to Carlisle last Thursday, which is why pictures of the castle are featuring on my blog right now. I'll talk about the castle in my next blog.