Her Cromwell trilogy complete, Hilary Mantel also has thoughts on modern royals and pols

IN LONDON, THE GHOSTS OF HISTORY ARE NEVER far away. The past lies close to the surface of its narrow streets and the walls of its churches. At Gray’s Inn, the cluster of stately brick buildings where lawyers have studied and practiced for more than 600 years, it occasionally pierces through into the present.

Hilary Mantel would know. The author has spent the past 15 years imagining the people who occupied the city’s historic haunts for her epic trilogy, a fictionalization of the life of Thomas Cromwell, aide to King Henry VIII. Mantel completes her series with the feverishly awaited publication of The third installment is even more epic in scale than its predecessors: a sweeping narrative encompassing four years of royal births, marriages and deaths;

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