I will say right off that I suspect the problems I have with this book are entirely personal. I understand why people are so impressed with it: terrific research, lovely language, interesting take on an affable Cromwell, etc. However, for me the point of view was clumsy and jarring, beginning in a limited third omniscient and then backing out, at times, to an omniscient third, which made it unnecessarily difficult to figure out who was saying what to whom for long sections. On top of that, like many door-stopper books, I felt it could have been edited down by a couple of hundred pages. For some, the point of view might go unnoticed -- the problem with being a writer oneself is that one sees all the rough scaffolding under the pretty plaster, and certainly the opening scene is so good that I wanted to give Mantel the benefit of the doubt and hoped she'd return to that tone. She rarely did. After re-reading a number of passages to make sure I understood the whos and whats of the piece, I found myself wanting to skip ahead, which is never a good sign. Although I liked Cromwell, and appreciated the wit and humor of the book, I longed for the narrative to pick up its skirts and make a dash for it. It is, after all, a story of which most of us are familiar, and perhaps that was part of the problem -- simply too familiar in the end, and not enough rivetingly good scenes to hold me. I finished it, but was left unsatisfied.