Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020
4th Estate presents the essential adaptation of The Mirror and the Light.
A Guardian Book of the Year
A Times Book of the Year
A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year
A Telegraph Book of the Year
A Sunday Times Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A Spectator Book of the Year
If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?
England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.
Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?
With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.
"Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall novels make 99 per cent of contemporary literary fiction feel utterly pale and bloodless by comparison." (The Times)
"Hilary Mantel has written an epic of English history that does what the Aeneid did for the Romans and War and Peace for the Russians. We are lucky to have it." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Very few writers manage not just to excavate the sedimented remains of the past, but bring them up again into the light and air so that they shine brightly once more before us. Hilary Mantel has done just that." (Simon Schama, Financial Times)