PositiveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)Robert McCrum’s focus is broad, his range diffuse. Disarmingly, he describes Shakespearean as \'a personal inquiry into Shakespeare’s life and works, a literary and biographical essay for the general reader, not a work of cutting-edge academic prowess for Shakespeare scholars, though I hope they may profit in passing here and there\' ... As McCrum points out, threats of civic rebellion and the plague \'overshadowed Shakespeare’s entire creative career.\' Shakespearean turns on the interplay between past and present – meaning our past and our present, but also what would have been the past and the present for Shakespeare ... All this helps to justify the author’s broad-brush survey of all Shakespeare’s writings treated in conjectural order of composition. He is adept at drawing parallels between the subject matter of the plays and events of Shakespeare’s time ... Clearly, then, this book is the work of an enthusiast. Its subtitle, \'On Life and Language in Times of Disruption,\' points to its topicality. It bears witness to a wide, if unfocused, range of reading in Shakespeare scholarship, scrupulously and generously acknowledged, although the author is occasionally let down by his sources.
RaveThe New York Review of BooksMantel is a modern storyteller, making no attempt to imitate the language of the period. But she often writes poetically, evoking (or should we say creating?) the beauties and the sordidness, the tenderness and the cruelty of the Tudor world … Cromwell is entangled in complex webs of intrigue and religious strife, of personal dramas that have international repercussions. His master King Henry is a shifty character, lacking self-knowledge, constantly and casuistically looking for loopholes in the law, for ways in which he can justify to himself if to no one else the courses of action that he wishes to pursue in order to fulfil his sexual and dynastic desires...Though Cromwell is a master politician, keeping his head down when others are in danger of losing theirs, he is not without personal motives in what he does.