I started Hilary Mantel’s ‘The Mirror and the Light’ with a great deal of pleasurable anticipation, having really enjoyed Wolf Hall but not found its follow-up ‘ Bring Up The Bodies’ quite so good. I found some infelicity in the language at the very beginning of this last part of the trilogy, and the odd error (someone threw down a pen for instance……a pen? I think not) but forgetting this, it was sheer enjoyment throughout. With such a large book and such a huge cast of characters, it was indeed right that there was a full Dramatis Personae at the start. The trouble with reading at bedtime however, and then putting the book aside each night, was that I was continually having to refer to that list. Perhaps a small price to pay for an ageing brain. The thing is with Cromwell, we all know he is going to get his head chopped off, so we have the denouement constantly in mind, and in my own case finding him a sympathetic lead character I was always wanting him to get on with his life and get things done. I don’t think he can come in for any criticism on that score. His rags to riches tale is certainly impressive, and what he achieved in transforming the religious ethos and culture of the whole country is frankly amazing. Told in historic detail (as for instance in Dermot Mccullough’s incredibly well-researched biography) one gets bogged down with his administrative dealings, but not in Hilary Mantel’s hands. The book flows. Another prize for Mantel? I hope so – she deserves it.