I really liked getting to know these people, especially Cromwell and his extended family. Mantel brings the period to life with small details woven into the storyline (rather than through exposition). For example, a poor woman who comes to Cromwell for help describes how she has been finding odd jobs since her husband left her; she is helping with the yearly laundering of the bed linen at a convent.
I also enjoyed seeing Anne and Mary Boleyn from a different viewpoint than that given in Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. By the end of the book, Cromwell and Anne Boleyn both still have their heads attached to their shoulders, so there much still to tell, and I've heard that Mantel is working on a sequel.