Winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2012 Costa Book of the Year Award
The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?
Bring Up the Bodies is one of The New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2012, one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012 and one of The Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2012
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About the Author
Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of ten previous novels, including Wolf Hall, which sold more than 200,000 copies and won the 2009 Man Booker Prize. Her previous works include her novel, A Place of Greater Safety, and her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. She lives in England with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
Bring up the Bodies
By Hilary Mantel
Henry Holt and Company, LLCCopyright © 2012 Hilary Mantel
All rights reserved.
WILTSHIRE, SEPTEMBER 1535
His children are falling from the sky. He watches from horseback, acres of England stretching behind him; they drop, gilt-winged, each with a blood-filled gaze. Grace Cromwell hovers in thin air. She is silent when she takes her prey, silent as she glides to his fist. But the sounds she makes then, the rustle of feathers and the creak, the sigh and riffle of pinion, the small cluck-cluck from her throat, these are sounds of recognition, intimate, daughterly, almost disapproving. Her breast is gore-streaked and flesh clings to her claws.
Later, Henry will say, 'Your girls flew well today.' The hawk Anne Cromwell bounces on the glove of Rafe Sadler, who rides by the king in easy conversation. They are tired; the sun is declining, and they ride back to Wolf Hall with the reins slack on the necks of their mounts. Tomorrow his wife and two sisters will go out. These dead women, their bones long sunk in London clay, are now transmigrated. Weightless, they glide on the upper currents of the air. They pity no one. They answer to no one. Their lives are simple. When they look down they see nothing but their prey, and the borrowed plumes of the hunters: they see a flittering, flinching universe, a universe filled with their dinner.
All summer has been like this, a riot of dismemberment, fur and feather flying; the beating off and the whipping in of hounds, the coddling of tired horses, the nursing, by the gentlemen, of contusions, sprains and blisters. And for a few days at least, the sun has shone on Henry. Sometime before noon, clouds scudded in from the west and rain fell in big scented drops; but the sun re-emerged with a scorching heat, and now the sky is so clear you can see into Heaven and spy on what the saints are doing.
As they dismount, handing their horses to the grooms and waiting on the king, his mind is already moving to paperwork: to dispatches from Whitehall, galloped down by the post routes that are laid wherever the court shifts. At supper with the Seymours, he will defer to any stories his hosts wish to tell: to anything the king may venture, tousled and happy and amiable as he seems tonight. When the king has gone to bed, his working night will begin.
Though the day is over, Henry seems disinclined to go indoors. He stands looking about him, inhaling horse sweat, a broad, brick-red streak of sunburn across his forehead. Early in the day he lost his hat, so by custom all the hunting party were obliged to take off theirs. The king refused all offers of substitutes. As dusk steals over the woods and fields, servants will be out looking for the stir of the black plume against darkening grass, or the glint of his hunter's badge, a gold St Hubert with sapphire eyes.
Already you can feel the autumn. You know there will not be many more days like these; so let us stand, the horseboys of Wolf Hall swarming around us, Wiltshire and the western counties stretching into a haze of blue; let us stand, the king's hand on his shoulder, Henry's face earnest as he talks his way back through the landscape of the day, the green copses and rushing streams, the alders by the water's edge, the early haze that lifted by nine; the brief shower, the small wind that died and settled; the stillness, the afternoon heat.
'Sir, how are you not burned?' Rafe Sadler demands. A redhead like the king, he has turned a mottled, freckled pink, and even his eyes look sore. He, Thomas Cromwell, shrugs; he hangs an arm around Rafe's shoulders as they drift indoors. He went through the whole of Italy – the battlefield as well as the shaded arena of the counting house – without losing his London pallor. His ruffian childhood, the days on the river, the days in the fields: they left him as white as God made him. 'Cromwell has the skin of a lily,' the king pronounces. 'The only particular in which he resembles that or any other blossom.' Teasing him, they amble towards supper.
The king had left Whitehall the week of Thomas More's death, a miserable dripping week in July, the hoof prints of the royal entourage sinking deep into the mud as they tacked their way across to Windsor. Since then the progress has taken in a swathe of the western counties; the Cromwell aides, having finished up the king's business at the London end, met up with the royal train in mid-August. The king and his companions sleep sound in new houses of rosy brick, in old houses whose fortifications have crumbled away or been pulled down, and in fantasy castles like toys, castles never capable of fortification, with walls a cannonball would punch in as if they were paper. England has enjoyed fifty years of peace. This is the Tudors' covenant; peace is what they offer. Every household strives to put forward its best show for the king, and we've seen some panic-stricken plastering these last weeks, some speedy stonework, as his hosts hurry to display the Tudor rose beside their own devices. They search out and obliterate any trace of Katherine, the queen that was, smashing with hammers the pomegranates of Aragon, their splitting segments and their squashed and flying seeds. Instead – if there is no time for carving – the falcon of Anne Boleyn is crudely painted up on hatchments.
Hans has joined them on the progress, and made a drawing of Anne the queen, but it did not please her; how do you please her, these days? He has drawn Rafe Sadler, with his neat little beard and his set mouth, his fashionable hat a feathered disc balanced precariously on his cropped head. 'Made my nose very flat, Master Holbein,' Rafe says, and Hans says, 'And how, Master Sadler, is it in my power to fix your nose?'
'He broke it as a child,' he says, 'running at the ring. I picked him up myself from under the horse's feet, and a sorry bundle he was, crying for his mother.' He squeezes the boy's shoulder. 'Now, Rafe, take heart. I think you look very handsome. Remember what Hans did to me.'
Thomas Cromwell is now about fifty years old. He has a labourer's body, stocky, useful, running to fat. He has black hair, greying now, and because of his pale impermeable skin, which seems designed to resist rain as well as sun, people sneer that his father was an Irishman, though really he was a brewer and a blacksmith at Putney, a shearsman too, a man with a finger in every pie, a scrapper and brawler, a drunk and a bully, a man often hauled before the justices for punching someone, for cheating someone. How the son of such a man has achieved his present eminence is a question all Europe asks. Some say he came up with the Boleyns, the queen's family. Some say it was wholly through the late Cardinal Wolsey, his patron; Cromwell was in his confidence and made money for him and knew his secrets. Others say he haunts the company of sorcerers. He was out of the realm from boyhood, a hired soldier, a wool trader, a banker. No one knows where he has been and who he has met, and he is in no hurry to tell them. He never spares himself in the king's service, he knows his worth and merits and makes sure of his reward: offices, perquisites and title deeds, manor houses and farms. He has a way of getting his way, he has a method; he will charm a man or bribe him, coax him or threaten him, he will explain to a man where his true interests lie, and he will introduce that same man to aspects of himself he didn't know existed. Every day Master Secretary deals with grandees who, if they could, would destroy him with one vindictive swipe, as if he were a fly. Knowing this, he is distinguished by his courtesy, his calmness and his indefatigable attention to England's business. He is not in the habit of explaining himself. He is not in the habit of discussing his successes. But whenever good fortune has called on him, he has been there, planted on the threshold, ready to fling open the door to her timid scratch on the wood.
At home in his city house at Austin Friars, his portrait broods on the wall; he is wrapped in wool and fur, his hand clenched around a document as if he were throttling it. Hans had pushed a table back to trap him and said, Thomas, you mustn't laugh; and they had proceeded on that basis, Hans humming as he worked and he staring ferociously into the middle distance. When he saw the portrait finished he had said, 'Christ, I look like a murderer'; and his son Gregory said, didn't you know? Copies are being made for his friends, and for his admirers among the evangelicals in Germany. He will not part with the original – not now I've got used to it, he says – and so he comes into his hall to find versions of himself in various stages of becoming: a tentative outline, partly inked in. Where to begin with Cromwell? Some start with his sharp little eyes, some start with his hat. Some evade the issue and paint his seal and scissors, others pick out the turquoise ring given him by the cardinal. Wherever they begin, the final impact is the same: if he had a grievance against you, you wouldn't like to meet him at the dark of the moon. His father Walter used to say, 'My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he'll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he'll cut off your leg. But if you don't cut across him, he's a very gentleman. And he'll stand anybody a drink.'
Hans has drawn the king, benign in summer silks, seated after supper with his hosts, the casements open to late birdsong, the first tapers coming in with the candied fruits. At each stage of his progress Henry stops in the principal house, with Anne the queen; his entourage beds down with the local gentlefolk. It is usual for the king's hosts, once at least in the visit, to entertain these peripheral hosts by way of thanks, which places a strain on the housekeeping arrangements. He has counted the provision carts rolling in; he has seen kitchens thrown into turmoil, and he himself has been down in the grey-green hour before dawn, when the brick ovens are swabbed out ready for the first batch of loaves, as carcasses are spitted, pots set on trivets, poultry plucked and jointed. His uncle was a cook to an archbishop, and as a child he hung about the Lambeth Palace kitchens; he knows this business inside out, and nothing about the king's comfort must be left to chance.
These days are perfect. The clear untroubled light picks out each berry shimmering in a hedge. Each leaf of a tree, the sun behind it, hangs like a golden pear. Riding westward in high summer, we have dipped into sylvan chases and crested the downs, emerging into that high country where, even across two counties, you can sense the shifting presence of the sea. In this part of England our forefathers the giants left their earthworks, their barrows and standing stones. We still have, every Englishman and woman, some drops of giant blood in our veins. In those ancient times, in a land undespoiled by sheep or plough, they hunted the wild boar and the elk. The forest stretched ahead for days. Sometimes antique weapons are unearthed: axes that, wielded with double fist, could cut down horse and rider. Think of the great limbs of those dead men, stirring under the soil. War was their nature, and war is always keen to come again. It's not just the past you think of, as you ride these fields. It's what's latent in the soil, what's breeding; it's the days to come, the wars unfought, the injuries and deaths that, like seeds, the soil of England is keeping warm. You would think, to look at Henry laughing, to look at Henry praying, to look at him leading his men through the forest path, that he sits as secure on his throne as he does on his horse. Looks can deceive. By night, he lies awake; he stares at the carved roof beams; he numbers his days. He says, 'Cromwell, Cromwell, what shall I do?' Cromwell, save me from the Emperor. Cromwell, save me from the Pope. Then he calls in his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and demands to know, 'Is my soul damned?'
Back in London, the Emperor's ambassador, Eustache Chapuys, waits daily for news that the people of England have risen against their cruel and ungodly king. It is news that he dearly wishes to hear, and he would spend labour and hard cash to make it come true. His master, the Emperor Charles, is lord of the Low Countries as well as Spain and her lands beyond the seas; Charles is rich and, from time to time, he is angry that Henry Tudor has dared to set aside his aunt, Katherine, to marry a woman whom the people on the streets call a goggle-eyed whore. Chapuys is exhorting his master in urgent dispatches to invade England, to join with the realm's rebels, pretenders and malcontents, and to conquer this unholy island where the king by an act of Parliament has settled his own divorce and declared himself God. The Pope does not take it kindly, that he is laughed at in England and called mere 'Bishop of Rome', that his revenues are cut off and channelled into Henry's coffers. A bull of excommunication, drawn up but not yet promulgated, hovers over Henry, making him an outcast among the Christian kings of Europe: who are invited, indeed, encouraged, to step across the Narrow Sea or the Scots border, and help themselves to anything that's his. Perhaps the Emperor will come. Perhaps the King of France will come. Perhaps they will come together. It would be pleasant to say we are ready for them, but the reality is otherwise. In the case of an armed incursion we may have to dig up the giants' bones to knock them around the head with, as we are short of ordnance, short of powder, short of steel. This is not Thomas Cromwell's fault; as Chapuys says, grimacing, Henry's kingdom would be in better order if Cromwell had been put in charge five years ago.
If you would defend England, and he would – for he would take the field himself, his sword in his hand – you must know what England is. In the August heat, he has stood bareheaded by the carved tombs of ancestors, men armoured cap à pie in plate and chain links, their gauntleted hands joined and perched stiffly on their surcoats, their mailed feet resting on stone lions, griffins, greyhounds: stone men, steel men, their soft wives encased beside them like snails in their shells. We think time cannot touch the dead, but it touches their monuments, leaving them snub-nosed and stub-fingered from the accidents and attrition of time. A tiny dismembered foot (as of a kneeling cherub) emerges from a swathe of drapery; the tip of a severed thumb lies on a carved cushion. 'We must get our forefathers mended next year,' the lords of the western counties say: but their shields and supporters, their achievements and bearings, are kept always paint-fresh, and in talk they embellish the deeds of their ancestors, who they were and what they held: the arms my forefather bore at Agincourt, the cup my forefather was given by John of Gaunt his own hand. If in the late wars of York and Lancaster, their fathers and grandfathers picked the wrong side, they keep quiet about it. A generation on, lapses must be forgiven, reputations remade; otherwise England cannot go forward, she will keep spiralling backwards into the dirty past.
He has no ancestors, of course: not the kind you'd boast about. There was once a noble family called Cromwell, and when he came up in the king's service the heralds had urged him for the sake of appearances to adopt their coat of arms; but I am none of theirs, he had said politely, and I do not want their achievements. He had run away from his father's fists when he was no older than fifteen; crossed the Channel, taken service in the French king's army. He had been fighting since he could walk; and if you're going to fight, why not be paid for it? There are more lucrative trades than soldiering, and he found them. So he decided not to hurry home.
And now, when his titled hosts want advice on the placement of a fountain, or a group of the Three Graces dancing, the king tells them, Cromwell here is your man; Cromwell, he has seen how they do things in Italy, and what will do for them will do for Wiltshire. Sometimes the king departs a place with just his riding household, the queen left behind with her ladies and musicians, as Henry and his favoured few hunt hard across the country. And that is how they come to Wolf Hall, where old Sir John Seymour is waiting to welcome them, in the midst of his flourishing family.
'I don't know, Cromwell,' old Sir John says. He takes his arm, genial. 'All these falcons named for dead women ... don't they dishearten you?'
'I'm never disheartened, Sir John. The world is too good to me.'
'You should marry again, and have another family. Perhaps you will find a bride while you are with us. In the forest of Savernake there are many fresh young women.'
I still have Gregory, he says, looking back over his shoulder for his son; he is always somehow anxious about Gregory. 'Ah,' Seymour says, 'boys are very well, but a man needs daughters too, daughters are a consolation. Look at Jane. Such a good girl.'
Excerpted from Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Copyright © 2012 Hilary Mantel. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters,
I Falcons. Wolf Hall, Wiltshire: September 1535,
II Crows. London and Kimbolton: Autumn 1535,
III Angels. London: Christmas 1535–New Year 1536,
I The Black Book. London: January–April 1536,
II Master of Phantoms. London: May 1536,
III Spoils. London: Summer 1536,
Additional Praise for Bring up the Bodies,
About the Author,
Reading Group Guide
1. The novel starts off with a description of hawks soaring in the sky and swooping in to slaughter their prey. In the same manner, the novel closes off with an image of a fox attacking a hen coop. What is the significance of these animals and what do they symbolize?
2. How has Cromwell's upbringing influenced him to become the shrewd and ambitious man that he is? What is the significance of Cromwell refusing to adopt the coat of arms belonging to a noble Cromwell family even as he widens the chasm between his father and himself? How does Cromwell view family and how is it different from his own experience growing up?
3. How is King Henry VIII described in the novel? Is he self-serving, or does he truly believe in the validity of his actions? Does he come over as a sympathetic character?
4. Katherine is accused by Cromwell of causing the split within the church, and of endangering her daughter Mary, by her stubborn resistance to the King's wishes. Do you view Katherine as a relentless and self-indulgent queen or is she noble for staying true to her beliefs?
5. Cromwell believes that England "will keep spiraling backwards into the dirty past" unless blunders are forgotten and old quarrels ended. How does this belief influence his actions in trying to build a new England? Does the king help or hinder him in this urge for renewal? How far are Cromwell's actions unselfish, and how far are they self-serving?
6. King Henry had fawned over all three women (Katherine, Anne, Jane) at one point in time. His past actions indicate that he loved his former wives, yet each affair proves temporary. How does Henry view love? Why do the women in the novel endeavor to wear the "poisoned ring?"
7. There is enormous power in a woman's gaze. How do the women in this novel utilize their feminine wiles to their advantage? What effect do they have on men subject to their lure, and what does this tell you about women's power over their male counterparts?
8. Birth and is a major conceit throughout the novel. As "nails give birth to nails," are children the product of their parents? Consider the parent-child relationships in the novel. What influence do parents have on their progeny?
9. When the King is thought to be dead after a jousting accident, there is a sudden rush to claim the crown. Are the players idealists, attempting to realize their political and religious ideals for England, or are they simply interested in getting power for themselves?'
10. Anne Boleyn is accused of committing adultery and even incest. Could there be any truth in these accusations, or are they complete fabrications by her enemies? How does she change once she realizes she is in danger?'
11. Cromwell seems very protective of Wyatt and saves him from death, even though he is widely suspected of being one of Anne's lovers. Why does Cromwell feel such a strong need to defend him when he vehemently accuses others of being the Queen's bedfellows? What sets Wyatt apart from the other men portrayed in the novel? What have Wyatt and Cromwell in common?'
12. Does the novel make you reconsider your view of the Tudors?
13. The story concludes with Cromwell's claim that there are no endings, only beginnings. The country now has a new queen and a new leading family. What does this mean for England's future? What do you think Cromwell's role will be in the new order?
14. The execution of Anne Boleyn is one of the most frightening moments in English history. Anne's last words are scripted to appease the King. What do you think would have been Anne's last words had there not been any consequences?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
407 pages of the latest telling of the Henry VIII story. This book is based on the story of the fall of Anne Boleyn. The focus, though, is not so much on Anne herself, but on Thomas Cromwell, Master of the Rolls and Secretary to Henry VIII. Hilary Mantel conveys the reader from September 1535 to the Summer of 1536. Besides Anne herself, Cromwell is responsible for bringing about the downfall/executions of several of Anne's "admirers", including her brother George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton, and Mark Smeaton. Since the book has its focus on the viewpoint of Cromwell rather than Anne or Henry, it's an interesting addition to the pool of books written on the subject of Henry and his wives. I hadn't read any of Mantel's previous books, so some of her writing affectations were off -putting, especially at first. For example, the book opens with what seems to be s surrealistic dream, until I realized that Cromwell named his hunting hawks after his dead daughters. It was a bit unnerving to read the first paragraph, with its ending sentence of "Her breast is gore streaked and flesh clings to her claws," and it wasn't until I got to the sentence, " The hawk Anne Cromwell bounces on the glove of Rafe Sadler. . ." that I realized this wasn't a weird dream sequence, but the presentation of a hunting scene with Henry and Cromwell. Still, the sentence, " Tomorrow his wife and two sisters will go out," make it clear that this confusion is deliberate. A previous reviewer has already remarked on Mantel's curious use of the pronoun "he", which generally refers to Cromwell himself although I noted that this was not always the case. It was sometimes used in a more traditional sense, as when she has as antecedent Henry VIII or some other important personage. In the first chapter, Mantel refers to Hans Holbein the painter as simply " Hans". ( I suppose there were not that many men in this story with the Christian name Hans, so that she did not feel it necessary to present when he first appears, with his full name, but that's just a guess on my part.) There are also some places where Cromwell is either recalling a speech by someone else, or thinking to himself, presented sans quotation marks, but in most places where there's dialogue, she does make use of them. Since the book jacket states that Mantel lives in England, I'm not sure if the stylistic choices made in this book are some new form of British English, or her individual writing eccentricity. These quibbles aside, I found the book quite interesting, especially when compared to other books that deal with this time period in English history, such as Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. I should note that even though Mantel's primary focus is on Cromwell, the insight we get on characters like Henry and Anne, through his eyes, is fresh and thought-provoking. History buffs will probably enjoy this book in spite of the stylistic eccentricities, while grammar purists might want to give it a miss. Recommended.
Wolf Hall was an exquisitely, even breathtakingly, written novel. But it was criticized for its conceit of using the pronoun "he" throughout, such that many readers complained they did not understand who the author meant. She meant Cromwell, except where it was obvously not him. The effect was to place you inside Cromwell's head, living the experience with him. Well, I guess her editor gave her a hard time. Bring Up The Bodies drops the conceit and, also, except for a few passages, has lost the penetrating lyricality and intimacy of its predecessor. It's just a plain old novel. That is unfortunate. It's a good book in comparison to your average novel, but it lacks the delicate and fine literary greatness that Mantel achieved in Wolf Hall. Read that first.
She's done it again! I loved Wolf Hall, and was eagerly awaiting Ms. Mantel's next missive. This is a fantastic book, and the author a fantastic writer. I adore the way she brings Anne Boleyn and her history to life. Really great!
I love historical fiction. I've never read this author, and I had an awful time getting used to her writing style. I read 60 pages before I called it quits. It was probably just me, but I just couldn't stay interested nor could I tell you who was narrating most of the time.
Havng read a lot of historical fiction about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in my long-lost youth, this book and the first one take place in an era fascinating to me. I'm completely caught up in Thomas Cromwell's life and hope for a third book to round it out.P ( or finish him off might be a better phrase). My only criticism is that Ms. Mantel still is not comfortable writing in third person. Can't imagine why she didn't just write this in first person since everything is through Cromwell's view any way. If you read the first book, Wolf Hall, you will see what I mean: a lot of the time her overuse of "he" leaves you confused over who is speaking. She has cured that in this book but does o in a very awkward way. Except for that, though, she does a great job and I highly recommend it.
I had to constantly reread paragraphs to determine who was speaking. Very distracting, and eventually headache inducing. Had to bail out at page 135
This former literature teacher enjoyed both plot and writing. I would recommend reading Wolf Hall first then Bring Up the Bodies. Thoroughly absorbing reads.
Hilary Wolf's writing is exciting because it is -- the author is -- willing to take a risk that people won't understand immediately what she is getting at. But the payoff is a much deeper story or joke or conclusion, if you just have the patience to wait for it. These are really marvelous books, and I think will stand the test of time. They are well worth reading. And if you are willing to take the time for the second reading, you'll get all these subtle great jokes that you may have missed the first time. Enjoy!!!
This was another great novel by Hilary Mantel. I loved Wolf Hall and was equally thirlled with Bring Up the Bodies. Hilary Mantel delivered another well written and entertaining novel about Thomas Cromwell. I cannot wait to read her next novel about this interesting man.
Hilary Mantel is a genius. Somehow she has improved upon the brilliance of "Wolf Hall." Her writing style is breathtaking: lyrical, elegant, complex, incredibly satisfying. Cromwell's charming, ruthless, utterly beguling personality--and ultimate path to self destruction--is on vivid display here. Henry VIII's egomanical callousness is shattering as is the fine web of deceit, betrayal, revenge, that finally captures a disbelieving Ann. I was so caught up in this I basically read the whole thing in one sitting, desperate to keep reading yet heartbroken to see it end. When asked to describe Mantel's style and appeal, I find it very hard to do so. You simply have to experience it.
Give me Philips Gregory anytime for historical fiction !! Found this to be boring, confusing. I am glad to be finished!
This book was a fascinating insight into the era of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, and other historical figures. Bring Up the Bodies is well-researched; providing interesting background information on major historical characters and also minor characters. Thomas Cromwell is an astute politician; he is both a hero and a villain. Hilary Mantel is such a gifted writer; I could hardly put down the book! I did not realize that Bring Up the Bodies was preceded by Wolf Hall, but I immediately went out and bought that book, too! The book is beautifully written and the characters are wonderfully complex.
Superb. Exceptional. Brilliant. More contemplative than Wolf Hall but delightful (and funny) nonethless.
Lighter than the first, but just as delightful In this second book of the Wolf Hall Trilogy, Mantel brings to life Thomas Cromwell during the reign and fall of Anne Boleyn. I've noticed a few reviews saying that Bring Up the Bodies isn't quite as good as Wolf Hall, though I'm not sure why people feel this is so. This book is slightly lighter reading, and much more straightforward, than Wolf Hall, and I think that makes up for any slight loss of lyricism. Also, some people may not have liked Cromwell's character as much in this book as in the first, but this was necessary for historical accuracy. If anything, Mantel has made Cromwell more human and likable than I'd ever imagined him to be. And this, I think, is the magic of Mantel's writing. This book is about the people, not the events. And she has taken a rather slimy, vengeful, self-serving historical figure and delivered a man that we can relate to...and even like. So, personally, I think this book was slightly better than the first.
Against the backdrop of the tumultuous marriage of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn Bring Up the Bodies is written from, Secretary to the King, Thomas Cromwell's perspective. Spanning the waning days of their life together, her trial and execution by beheading to the King's marriage to Jane Seymour, Hillary Mantel's book serves up intrigue, adultery, incest and conspiracy on a silver platter like the ones that may have graced Cromwell's table. The reader will watch Cromwell use his keen mind and understanding of human foibles: thirst for power, deceit and false pride to play men, women rulers, Church and Monarchy against each other as if pieces in a tragic deadly game of chess. Like others, I found it initially laborious until I mastered the characters and Mantel's voice then I was hooked and could not put it down. I eagerly await her next book on Cromwell's machinations and fate. Fortunately a PBS series on the same subject ran in tandem with my reading the book which heightened my curiosity, interest and enjoyment. For those patient readers interested in the subject, I heartily recommend it.
This sequel to Wolf Hall, set during the reign and fall of Anne Boelyn, and seen through the mind of Thomas Cromwell, captured the intrigue and human tradgety of Henry Tudor's kingdom.
As well written as was the first book in this trilogy-to-be, this second installment is sometimes lyrical. The story seens new, the telling of it is taut, and the occasional confusion over whose voice we're hearing is neatly taken care of this time out.
Couldn't put it down. Couldn't wait to read the sequel Bring up the Bodies.
I like stories based on historical happenings, irrespective of where they took place, and Bring up the Bodies is one of them. With echoes of stories involving traditional monarchs like in Disciples of Fortune, or the King and I, this story is rich and revealing.It is an excellently written story that I finished without being conscious of the flow of time. The characters are amazing and they are true to life due to the wonderful portrayal of their human sides.Smooth writing, fabulous descriptions, amazing dialogue and gripping pacing are the elements that made this story an accomplished piece of writing.
Hilary Mantel has written a worthy successor to Wolf Hall, continuing her unusual approach to Tudor England as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. Even though the tale of Anne Bolyn is an oft told one, Cromwell adds some new pages of his own. Written with grace and elegance, Bring Up the Bodies is a very satisfying read.
I loved Wolf Hall and have been waiting for the sequel and was thrilled to be able to get this early from the Vine program. I immediately devoured it and was not disappointed. Although I did not realize this was going to be a trilogy so now I have another long wait ahead of me.In this book, Anne Boleyn is starting to lose favor with Henry. Cromwell continues to be a confidante to the King but worries about his future. Should something happen to Henry, he would be lost,as he has made enemies in helping Henry obtain his goals. The Boleyns don't trust him and those that favored Katherine hate him. Cromwell is dedicated to cleaning up the religious mess made by the Catholic Church, while being at Henry's beck and call.I love that these books are told through Cromwell's and we see what a complex character he is.Some people were confused when reading Wolf Hall because so many were named Thomas and that many were referred to as "he" and you could not always tell who was speaking. In this book, Mantel refers to Cromwell as "he, Cromwell" to make things less confusing for those people. The writing was brilliant as always and I look forward to the final book in this trilogy. And maybe I will finally get around to reading A Place of Greater Safety, another well reviewed book by Hilary Mantel.
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and especially fiction from the Tudor period. I admittedly did not read the first book in this sequence and as such got really lost within this narrative. Regardless, it is obvious that Mantel put some effort into her research, and it made me seek out the first book in this series.
Like many other readers, I was eagerly awaiting the sequel to Wolf Hall, and, overall, Mantel does not disappoint. Here, she again covers familiar ground, Henry VIII's dislluisionment with his second wife, Anne Boleyn, due in part to her strident and flirtatious personality, but more to the fact that she hasn't rapidly produced a male heir. The story is told again from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, who is charged for the second time with the task of discovering a way to cast off an unwanted queen. Cromwell appears to be an ambitious man who (like so many Nazi officers claimed) is just following orders; but there is an undercurrent of revenge towards the men he brings down along with Anne. Mantel gives him an imagined inner life that balances the cold, calculating politican against a man who has survived both hardship and tragedy. Not without heart, her Cromwell nevertheless has the ability, when necessary, to turn that heart into stone.Mantel brings in a number of details that I either was not aware of or had forgotten, such as the irony that Henry's marriage to Anne was annulled for the same reason as his marriage to Katherine, prior sexual relations with a sibling (in this case, Henry's affair with Mary Boleyn). And she successfully ties in to the events of Wolf Hall through memories, as in the recurrent appearance of the peacock wings worn by his deceased daughter Grace in a Christmas pageant. Again, the writing is at times almost lyrical--another way of humanizing the man whose own son says that he looks like a murderer.Two responses to repeated comments by other reviewers: first, on the insertions of "he, Cromwell" as a supposed attempt to answer criticism of the sometimes confusing use of simply "he" in Wolf Hall. Overall, I found this less helpful than it was disruptive. It was often unnecessary, and the repetition grew irksome; it was as if I was being reminded that I was a poor, confused reader who probably couldn't figure out for myself who was speaking or being spoken about. I would rather be a little confused on occasion than frequently irritated. Second, I don't agree with those who feel that Bring Up the Bodies is far superior to Wolf Hall. It's an excellent book with a tighter frame of action, but overall, I'd give the first novel in the trilogy an extra half star.Like everyone else, I'll be eagerly awaiting the third installment in this awesome series.
This is the second in the Wolf Hall trilogy and even better. I think Mantel must have paid attention to the number one criticism of Wolf Hall, the ambiguous pronoun. In this book she frequently says he, Cromwell says or does such and such. It's much easier to follow, but ol' Cromwell is getting kind of creepy. Being his friend is certainly much safer than being his enemy, and apparently he held a grudge for a very long time. Anne Boleyn, that often romantic heroine, comes off as quite the petulant schemer; but the detailed description of her execution, in spite of the harsh way she is portrayed, is gut wrenching.Royalty, all in all, is seen to be much like the Mafia - its friends profit wildly, but friendship is fickle and falling out of favor dangerous. Since I hear this is planned only as a trilogy, and since we are on just wife number 3 of 8, I'm thinking the all powerful and vengeful Cromwell is going to be one of those unfortunates out of favor in the final book. Ow, it will be hard to read that.
I did not get a chance to read Wolf Hall, and this book is the second in the series. However saying that, I had no problem following the story or getting engrossed in it. As long as you know of the history of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell, you will be able to read this book without having to read Wolf Hall first. I will be getting Wolf Hall based on my experience with this one.This was a great book from start to finish. I personally loved how it was from the eyes of Cromwell. Most historical fiction novels based on this time period are almost always through the eyes of Anne Boleyn, her sister or even Henry VIII himself. However, I haven't seen many through Crmowell's eyes. I loved this perspective and it allowed the writer greater freedom than the would have had otherwise. This is absolutely a fiction novel about the downfall of Anne Boleyn and the rise of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour. From the beginning the reader is brought into this world. I could hardly put this book down.I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good fiction novel. Historical fiction lovers will enjoy this book as well as people who don't really know the first thing about Anne Boleyn or Thomas Cromwell. However, I would suggest reading Wolf Hall first, but it is not required as in other series where the reader would be utterly lost if they didn't read the books in sequence.