Hilary Mantel is a novelist of great power, wit and intelligence, one of the finest now writing in England. Her early novels were hideously funny accounts of professional families with lives verging on dysfunction. Even darker themes followed, the brilliant Beyond Black presenting a female medium beset by real fiends. Mantel’s Catholic education set her moral compass, and her experience of living in Africa and then Saudi Arabia opened up new areas of darkness in her always fierce imagination. Her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, is as remarkable as her fiction.
Unlike most historical novelists, she writes without sentimentality. Her two hefty volumes on Thomas Cromwell, brutal adviser to King Henry VIII — the King who destroyed the English monasteries and beheaded two of his six wives — have captured the British reading public and carried off all the prizes with the vigor of the narrative and minutely evoked detail of Cromwell’s day-to-day life. Amazingly, she makes a man renowned for nastiness into a sympathetic hero.
Tomalin, a biographer, has written about the lives of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen
"This is a recurring theme of revolutions. Any sort of immediate, violent change means tearing apart identities and reconfiguring the status quo—at least cosmetically—but too often the change is hijacked by the old guard. A large share of Romania’s political elite was part of th ancien régime, ruling class shaped by a totalitarian understanding of power. These leaders have a poor appreciation of parliamentary representation, a feeble capacity for cohabitation with other viewpoints, a lack of consideration for citizenship, a weakness for populist demagoguery, and a dangerous tendency to personalize all power dynamics."
"Two decades into our democratic experiment, we should by now have seen a maturation of our political elites and electorate, a refinement of our dialogue, a new wisdom in making choices, an improvement in our strategic thinking, and maybe more than anything an affirmation of professionalism. Sadly, what characterizes Romania’s present political scene is the opposite of the above. What we see is incompetence, patronage, and demagoguery. We are left with no good role models, no healthy civic culture to build upon."
"As a political scientist student eager to examine, explain, and try to predict political events, I was once excited about democracy. Now I feel the need to get out of my profession. Political journalism here means getting mixed up in a dirty game. There’s no respect for the substantive merits of ideas and policies. Writing against a idea, policy or action s considered to be writing against someone."