Monday, January 04, 2010

End-of-season's greetings

They will keep the feast in Stepney. The angel's wings are moved there; he wants to keep them, till there is another child in the house of the right size. He sees them going, shivering in their shroud of fine linen, and watches the Christmas star loaded on to a cart. Christophe asks, 'How would one work it, that savage machine that is all over points?'

He draws off one of the canvas sleeves, shows him the gilding. 'Jesus Maria,' the boy says. 'The star that guides us to Bethlehem. I thought it was an instrument of torture.'

From Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, which having just finished it really does appear to be that good. Time is required, though, to certify the level of praise it has received, and time can be particularly hard on historical novels. As the main points of your new year emerge from under canvas, may they turn out to be decorations, rather than instruments of torture.

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