Wolf HallRead about another book on the list.
by Hilary Mantel
This fictional portrait of the commoner who rose to become Henry VIII's legal adviser and chief fixer put the spotlight on a lawyer whose role in English history had long been shadowy, in more than one sense. A self-educated commercial man -- and former mercenary soldier -- in an age that still looked to feudal ties as the foundation of society, Thomas Cromwell supervised Henry's dissolution of the monasteries, and the execution of Sir Thomas More. Mantel brings humanity -- and even a kind of heroism -- to a figure often understood as one of the great schemers of his age.
Wolf Hall made Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009 and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."