The problem is usually the Russians. All the “Ts” and “Ps” and “Ns” are trouble because I read names and think, “oh – the N—- guy, he’s bad.” Lord of the Rings – certainly not Russian – posed the same problem. I didn’t realize there were two bad guys because both of them started with an “S.” I get it, Satan is bad, so are S—- and S—-. But the names give me trouble.
I can’t blame Hilary Mantel. She’s working with historical fiction, and consequently must feel some responsibility not to rename Henry’s cousin, Henry, something else just to make my bathtub read more enjoyable. And she must have recognized the problem (maybe Hilary, too, spent pages of Crime and Punishment wonder just who was up to what), becaues the book begins with a lengthy (six or seven pages) list of characters and their roles/associations at court/church/countryside.
But I can’t help feeling vexed. Curse the English I say, curse their lack of imagination. Of course, that said, I’d much prefer sixteen Henry’s in a row to monarchs named Apple, Trick or Zenith.