Books: Wolf Hall – It’s all about the money

wolf hall.jpg“Wolf Hall,” winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize, is the book that everyone is reading on the beach this year, according to “I-Spy for Adults” in the Times.

 

I borrowed it and read it in the Devon garden of our house swap friends in between bouts of summer rain.

 

Set in the 1520s, it is understandably lacking in direct reference to the petchem business, but it’s strong on the inter-weaving of politics and finance, on trading, banking, religion and kings.

 

In this passage, Thomas Cromwell, self-made man with a background in the military, trading, banking and the law, threatens to destroy a bankrupt aristo who doesn’t realize that it’s all about the money.

 

How can he explain it to him? The world is not run from where he thinks. Not from his border fortresses, not even from Whitehall. The world is run from Antwerp, from Florence, from places he has never imagined; from Lisbon, from where the ships with sails of silk drift west and are burned up in the sun. Not from castle walls, but from counting houses, not by the call of the bugle but by the click of the abacus, not by the grate and click of the mechanism of the gun but by the scrape of the pen on the page of the promissory note that pays for the gun and the gunsmith and the powder and shot.

(p 378 Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel, Fourth Estate 2010)

 

 

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