Most of the joy of Bring Up the Bodies is Mantel s lovely writing, and her masterful creation and depiction of the series main protagonist Thomas Cromwell The story is told mainly from a third person perspective, but it is an omniscient narrator who sometimes enters the minds and thoughts of the characters, so we occasionally get a first person point of view This stylistic choice further adds to the novel s strengths as a well written text.
As already mentioned, one of the main pleasures of this book is Mantel s creation of Cromwell, a historical figure we actually don t know a lot about Her interpretation of this man is wonderful and full bodied on so many levels Cromwell s dry humor and accurate insightful observations about others and our human natures are one of the book s main joys He is an intellectual giant among worms, and he enjoys himself immensely His almost perverse pleasure at ensnaring into the web of Anne Boleyn s downfall the four noblemen who mocked his late beloved mentor Cardinal Wolsey in a play years before is an excellent plot contrivance that Mantel s creates to show that Cromwell is capable of pettiness, and is also quite dangerous Mantel deploys considerable skill in the four scenes where Cromwell entraps each of these four men into his web He is the perfect Machiavellian, doing a service for his king, and himself at the same time Another breathtaking moment in the text among many is the excellent scene where Cromwell tricks Mark Smeaton a dandy musician into confessing adultery with Queen Anne It is simply riveting writing.
In Bring Up the Bodies Mantel shows Cromwell growing into his power, and thus he is not nearly as likable as he was in Wolf Hall He is becoming a lot like the people he detests Mantel is obviously building up his ego and hubris for his downfall, which I assume is the focus of the third final book There are so many ironic and foreshadowing lines that hint at Cromwell s own end that I kept thinking as I read, you reap what you sow If you know the actual history of these events you will catch these references and it will increase your enjoyment of the book Pride is such a huge theme in this text, and it trips up so many people that one would be a dunce not to see the larger warnings about us as individuals that we can take from the novel.
In short, Mantel s writing is fluid and lyrical and she is the rare storyteller who is also an excellent writer Although Bring Up the Bodies is less episodic and quicker to read than Wolf Hall it is no less enjoyable, and I can t wait for the next one There are no endings If you think so you are deceived as to their nature They are all beginnings Here is one.
The books of Hilary Mantel on Thomas Cromwell are superb, grande We all know the history of Henry VIII but Wolfhall and Bring Up the Bodies are refreshing, sharp, intelligent, emotionalso muchthan just historic tales I give a slight preference to Wolf Hall, because that book was groundbreaking, a new take on this famous piece of history, seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell However, again Bring Up the Bodies is sublime and of course tells the dark tale of the fall of Anne Boleyn, fascinating And Mantel is a great storyteller Something happens to Anne then, which later he will not quite understand She seems to dissolve and slip from their grasp, from Kingston s hands and his, she seems to liquefy and elude them, and when she resolves herself onceinto woman s form she is on hands and knees on the cobbles, her head thrown back, wailing Fitzwilliam, the Lord Chancellor, even her uncle, steps back Kingston frowns, his deputy shakes his head, Richard Riche looks stricken He, Cromwell, takes hold of her since no one else will do it and sets her back on her feet She weighs nothing, and as he lifts her, her wail breaks off, as if her breath had been stopped Silent, she steadies herself against his shoulder, leans into him intent, complicit, read for the next thing they will do together, which is kill her.
About Cromwell what a fascinating character, re my review of Wolf Hall, on the one hand a warm family man, on the other hand iron hard when it comes to dealing with all the so called accomplices in the Anne Boleyn case and ruthlessly sending a whole group of people to their death by axe Revenge or self preservation or both One thing is for sure Cromwell is always planning ahead A true chess player And so far, he does that pretty well Also very interesting in this book, the developing relation friendship with Chapuys, ambassador of emperor Charles VAll the players are gone , Wriothesley says All four who carried the cardinal to Hell And also the poor foul Mark who made a ballad of their exploits All four, he says All five A gentleman asked me, if this is what Cromwell does to the cardinal s lesser enemies, what will he do by and by to the King himself I am now watching the dvd of the BBC series that I was very careful not to touch while I was still reading the book Very good as well The part on Thomas More stands out in the series so far for me Highly recommended I do hope Ms Mantel continues the Cromwell Henry VIII story until the very end Can t wait for the third book.
Alternate Cover Edition ISBNISBNThe Sequel To Hilary Mantel S International Bestseller And Man Booker Prize Winner Wolf Hall Explores One Of The Most Mystifying And Frightening Episodes In English History The Downfall Of Anne BoleynThough He Battled For Years To Marry Her, Henry VIII Has Become Disenchanted With The Audacious Anne Boleyn She Has Failed To Give Him A Son, And Her Sharp Intelligence And Strong Will Have Alienated His Old Friends And The Noble Families Of EnglandWhen The Discarded Katherine, Henry S First Wife, Dies In Exile From The Court, Anne Stands Starkly Exposed, The Focus Of Gossip And Malice, Setting In Motion A Dramatic Trial Of The Queen And Her Suitors For Adultery And Treason At A Word From Henry, Thomas Cromwell Is Ready To Bring Her Down Over A Few 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 To Defeat The Boleyns, Cromwell Must Ally Himself With His Enemies What Price Will He Pay For Annie S Head Front Flap Most people in the English speaking world know the history of Henry VIII from their earliest school days or from the many books, films and TV series that the episode has inspired Some of us cringe when we hear of yet another fictional version, yet another glittery effort to sensationalise the intrigue of the Tudor court and create evenfarfetched scenarios around the details of the wooing and discarding of Henry s wives How then can Hilary Mantel s series be of any interest I would argue that her treatment of history does not belong in the historical fiction genre but rather in the field of historical analysis Already, with her account of the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety 2006 , she proved that she had found a new and unique way to analyse historical events She combs all the available documentary evidence and from this wealth of detail she builds a living picture of the time and its chief players so that we feel, smell, touch, even inhabit their world But she creates dialogue, you will point out, and imagines the players thoughts This is true, but any historian who reads all the documents, all of the letters relating to historical personages can t avoid interpreting their motivations Mantel takes that interpretation a step further through dialogue, thereby making the reading of this familiar history, which otherwise holds little surprise or suspense, muchrewarding and entertaining She succeeds because of her fine writing skills and her ability to choose the most suitable angle from which to view the events, in this case, Thomas Cromwell, the kings secretary it is as if the reader is perched on his shoulder, seeing everything he sees and privy to about half of his thoughts And we suspect that the other half of his thoughts are so secret that even he, Thomas Cromwell has little access to them Mantel reveals him as neither hero nor villain, but simply a man who is good at his job Being Henry s secretary is like playing chess the task is to destroy the opponent and the notion of the opposition of good and evil has no place on this board Survival is the only rule Let me give an example on the first page of Bring Up the Bodies, Cromwell watches a hunting scene involving a pair of hawksWeightless, they glide on the upper currents of 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 When we reach the last page of the book, we remember the pair of hawks and we are amazed Thomas Cromwell has learned from those hawks He too is silent when he takes his prey.
Aaaahhh Fine, fine, fine The final last paragraph perfect.
Cromwell now to me will always be he, Cromwell This little stylistic flourish did add clarity, compared with Wolf Hall To purposefully use just he in the first book was at times confusing, forcing one to stop and step out of the story to regain one s bearings Sort of like breaking the fourth wall and perhaps that was the point then, a metafictional technique but it was too intrusive This book just sailed on from Wolf Hall Immersion was swift and total.
Another Booker winner, I hope.
I came to this sequel thinking it could not possibly stand up to the first installment So, I was prepared to like this book, but not love it as much as I did Wolf Hall But I was wrong it does, and I did It s one of those works that I lingered over the last pages of, not wanting it to end the prose is that good And it installed itself into my psyche After putting it down at night and as I fell asleep, words, phrases, sentences rolled through my head This has happened to me before, but this time it felt different And though when I awoke, I couldn t remember any of what I d dreamed if dreaming is what it was , I knew the procession of words was due to this book I also figured this is how the brain of Mantel s Cromwell must work, never stopping, except he does remember all And when you see the culmination of his remembering all, it is chilling.
Much of what I wrote in my review of Wolf Hall may be inserted here Like the title of Wolf Hall, this title has a different meaning than you might think unless you are exceptionally in the know And as I also said about Wolf Hall, this is not your average, run of the mill historical fiction it is elevated As I neared the end, I was starting to become resigned to the fact that I wouldn t be as excited by any particular passage as I had been with the one I quoted in my review of Wolf Hall and that perhaps I was spoiled by what was so fresh in Wolf Hall but then I arrived at the final page I loved this second book about Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII eventhan the first one I started reading Bring Up the Bodies as soon as I finished Wolf Hall, and I ve enjoyed this series so much I m excited for Mantel s third volume, whenever it s published While Wolf Hall focused on the rise of Anne Boleyn and how she became Queen of England, Bring Up the Bodies is about how the King decides to leave Anne when she can t give him a son, and her subsequent downfall and execution The story of her trial and beheading has been told many times, but I loved how Mantel chose to show us the scenes from Cromwell s perspective, and how he helped manipulate the proceedings Cromwell even maneuvered to help the King find his next wife, Jane Seymour.
This second book had good pacing and flowedfreely than the first one, perhaps because the first one had numerous flashbacks to Cromwell s childhood and the back and forth with Cardinal Wolsey Taken together, they are a masterpiece of historical fiction, and I highly recommend this series Favorite Quotes You can be merry with the king, you can share a joke with him But as Thomas More used to say, it s like sporting with a tamed lion You tousle its mane and pull its ears, but all the time you re thinking, those claws, those claws, those claws What is the nature of the border between truth and lies It is permeable and blurred because it is planted thick with rumour, confabulation, misunderstandings and twisted tales Truth can break the gates down, truth can howl in the street unless truth is pleasing, personable and easy to like, she is condemned to stay whimpering at the back door He needs guilty men So he has found men who are guilty Though perhaps not guilty as charged Sometimes peace looks like war, you cannot tell them apart Erasmus says that you should praise a ruler even for qualities he does not have For the flattery gives him to think And the qualities he presently lacks, he might go to work on them How many men can say, as I must, I am a man whose only friend is the King of England I have everything, you would think And yet take Henry away, and I have nothing We are not priests We don t want their sort of confession We are lawyers We want the truth little by little and only those parts of it we can use You have always regarded women as disposable, my lord, and you cannot complain if in the end they think the same of you Who can understand the lives of women
Hilary Mantel s brilliant trilogy about Thomas Cromwell continues with Bring Up the Bodies.
Cromwell is the right hand man of Henry the VIII His masterful manipulation of people and circumstances to make the world as Henry wants it has brought Cromwell wealth and power.
Getting Anne Boleyn on the throne was a struggle Now he has to get her off of it without losing his own head in the process.
Mantel doesn t just tell history, she makes it come alive.
In one scene I can t get out of my head Henry has a temper tantrum because of the Spanish ambassador s continued disrespect towards his new wife, Anne, and the repeated requests from the Spanish crown for money owed The king blows his top at Cromwell and screams in his face.
He says he believes Cromwell has always manipulated him and laughed at him But he is king and he will not be steered.
And, even though I knew the history, I thought for a moment Cromwell was going to be taken to the Tower in that instant.
Instead, he quietly apologizes to the king and dismisses himself, then goes to a different room to take a drink With shaking hands, Cromwell spills a drop of the wine on himself and sits there, contemplating the small stain on his shirt.
And I said to myself, Mantel is a genius In that passage, it was as if I was in that room, living the moment She makes you forget you re reading a book It s so immersive It s almost magical.
Cromwell s efforts to collect evidence against Queen Anne fills much of this book As he tightens his net around her, you can almost feel it tighten around yourself.
Cromwell jokes with his sworn men to ease some of the tension, but it is always there, buzzing beneath the surface.
Highly recommended for historical fiction readers Bring Up the Bodies is one of the best books I ve read this year.
Mantel is such an excellent writer her prose is eloquent and artistic, beautiful even.
Few writers have such skill She uses every grammatical tool at her disposal to give her novel a strong individual sense of stylistic flair And that s just the surface level of her sentences she also uses metaphor and constant allusions to take it to another level entirely For example, my favourite passage in the bookHe looks around at his guests All are prepared A Latin grace English would be his choice, but he will suit his company Who cross themselves ostentatiously, in papist style Who look at him, expectant He shouts for the waiters The doors burst open Sweating men heave the platters to the table It seems the meat is fresh, in fact not slaughtered yet It is just a minor breach of etiquette The company must sit and salivate The Boleyns are laid at his hand to be carvedThis is so much stronger that its predecessorWolf HallThere is a stronger narrative drive and Cromwell hasmomentum and enthusiasm for achieving his ambitions He is also getting used to his power and his influence, testing them to see how far they can reach A risky game, but we all know what came of it in the end He is a very intelligent man, able to root out evidence for the king when there is none to be found The Boleyn family, though politically smart, were vastly out matched by the cunning of Cromwell When the king wanted them out, Cromwell didn t have to work too hard to achieve it Mantel has improved on her style so much hereWolf Hall was exceptionally good, but it did have many flaws It was a hard book to read My main problem with it was trying to discern who the he in question within the writing For example Cromwell was referred to he whist talking to another he about a pair of he s they were feared were scheming against them Uncomfortable stuff, though she seems to have listened to the criticism her first book received and the result is a much stronger piece of writing So what s it all about Boredom Boredom and anger Henry VIII s new wife Ann Boleyn has failed to give him a son, such a terrible thing The entire situation is ridiculously ironic considering the one child she did give him, the future Elizabeth I, would become a much better monarch than he could ever be The fat fool didn t need a son But his silly little masculine ego demanded one Sure you could talk about the politics involved in having a male offspring, but, again, just look at what Elizabeth did by herself She had no direct heir When she died she gave the throne to the King of Scotland Enough said Cromwell has a large task on his hands, but he wasthan capable of carving up the Boleyns The only real complication was he had to do it within the limitations of the law The king can t be above his own mandates, and he has to be able to justify his brutal actions even if the entire world new he was full of rubbish and would bend the system to his own ends and act all innocent about it Then blame his councillors years later for his own decisions Cromwell, naturally, goes to work But his day of reckoning draws very near I can t wait to read the final book in this series It s obvious how it will all end the chopping block It will be interesting to see how Mantel handles the fall of Cromwell I also wonder if she will win the man booker prize again I think she s great, but I don t think she deserves it again The prize is for innovating, high quality writing But her writing is no longer innovative It s a regurgitation of what she has already done not a bad thing but I don t think she should win the prize multiple times for doing the same things Still, I m excited for the third book.
Rafe Sadler and Stephen Gardiner Looking for advice on ridding yourself of unwanted household pests Running low on funds for your comfortable lifestyle Need the occasional hard thump to the torso to get the old ticker restarted Need to re direct your reproductive efforts towards amasculine outcome Need to fend off potential assaults by enemies foreign and domestic Why, call Mister Fixit Yes, yes, I know there were no phones in 16th Century England, so summon Mr Fixit OK Happy now Jeez, some people Thomas Cromwell, a man of modest origins who had risen to the highest position in the land, that did not absolutely require aristocratic genes, had already demonstrated a penchant for getting things done, by whatever means necessary And so continues the tale, in book 2 of Hilary Mantel s trilogy about Tudor England.
Hilary MantelThe end of Wolf Hall You read Wolf Hall, right If you haven t, stop reading this now, and go get a copy read that and when you are done, feel free to return What are you waiting for Go Scat was H8 s marriage to AB The quest had come to the desired conclusion, and now they re gonna party like it s 1533 Not only had H8 succeeded in flipping the bird a falcon in this case see the badges below to the RC, but he was engaged in swiping their stuff as well Pope We doan need no steenking Pope Cromwell was the guy who had done most of the fixing So everything should be fine now, right Not so fast.
Dueling Badges Anne Boleyn s and Catherine of Aragon s in case any are neededAB is getting very full of herself but not, unfortunately full of a male heir, and there are younger ladies in waiting, you know, waiting H8 has an eye problem It wanders uncontrollably, in this instance to young, demure Jane Seymour Of course there is the pesky business of clearing that obstruction from the royal path, and Mister Fixit is called in sorry, summoned to make it go away Luckily for him he has his fingers in many administrative pies you washed those fingers before inserting, right and is not shy about using his inside knowledge to achieve his boss s goals Cromwell also has an excellent network of spies little birds sprinkled throughout the realm Combine the two, make much of what was probably idle gossip, add a dollop or three of spite and voila For good measure, TC takes particular pleasure in focusing his skills on those who had done dirt to his mentor, Cardinal Wolsey, ticking off each one as they succumb to his devilry Like a certain Stark lass ticking off her list of future targets at bedtime The once and future Catherine of Aragon and Jane SeymourWas AB guilty of the crimes of which she was accused Probably not But as long as the folks in charge can get the people with weapons to do their bidding it does not much matter There is no law, really, only power Legal processes are often mere window dressing to the underlying exercise of big fish eating smaller fish, and sometimes spitting them out The fiction of legality keeps the mass of smaller fish from chomping their much larger tormenters to bits Sort of like now See, people It s all perfectly legal Bring Up the Bodies is a masterful achievement, showing, step by step, how dark aims are orchestrated and achieved In laying this out, Hilary Mantel also offers us a look at how the reins of power can be abused by the unscrupulous, and Thomas Cromwell is shown in his full unscrupulousness in this volume He was gonna get these guys and when he saw his chance, he took it Where Wolf Hall presented aremoved Cromwell, Bring Up the Bodies shows us Cromwell asthan a fixer,than a technocrat We get to see him as a monster, despite his supposed desire to make Englandequitable for working people H8 is shown muchas a spoiled psycho child in this volume Whatever his intelligence, whatever his accomplishments, what we see of Henry here is primarily his boorishness, his childishness I want what I want and I do not care who gets hurt, or even killed, so I can have it I was reminded of the great Twilight Zone episode It s a Good Life.
Mantel won a second Booker prize for this one, and it was well deserved Not only do we get a very human look at a key period in Western history, but are blessed with Mantel s amazing wit as manifested by her characters, and consideration of issues that transcend history, as well as a compelling episode of Survival Tudor It is an easier read than the first book,engaging, if that is possible If you have not seen the miniseries made from the combined volumes you really must Hilary Mantel has brought out her best in Bring Up the Bodies, using her genius for historical fiction to make the old seem new again You won t lose your head if you don t read this book, but you probably should.
Review posted 5 22 15Re posted 5 24 19Publication date 5 8 2012The final volume in the series, The Mirror and the Light, is due for release March 2020, according to the latest intel EXTRA STUFFMy review of Wolf HallLinks to the author s personal, Twitter, Google and FB pagesExcellent radio interview with Mantel by Leonard LopateA marvelous New Yorker magazine article looking at Mantel s careerGreat material here in another New Yorker article, Invitation to a Beheading, by James Wood Why isn t Henry VIII fat and other Wolf Hall mysteries explained