A Review of Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies
- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (May 8, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805090037
- ISBN-13: 978-0805090031
In Hilary Mantel's Own Words
"Bring Up the Bodies is the second part of my trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII. I have been interested in Cromwell for years, and wanted to get beyond the negative portrayal of him in popular history and fiction. He was a ruthless man, certainly, but no more so than other contemporary politicians; and in Henry, a man of violent temper, he had a very demanding employer. As soon as you get back beyond the prejudices about Cromwell, you find a clever, enterprising, resilient and optimistic man, with a story well worth telling. He was at the center of Henry's court for almost ten years, and when you look at events from his point of view, they seem very different from the stories of the Tudor court to which we've grown accustomed.
Originally I thought I would tell the story in just one book. But as I made progress with Wolf Hall, I discovered the richness and depth of the material. I was glad to alter my plans. Now the project will reach a conclusion in The Mirror & The Light, the book that is still ahead of me."
Book SynopsisThough he battled for seven 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 England.
When 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 Anne's head?
My ThoughtsBring Up The Bodies is the middle volume in a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. With trilogies, middle volumes are usually the weakest because they don't have the familiarity of the first and seldom live up to its promise. Often they just serve as the preface to the third volume. Bring Up The Bodies does not have this worry. On the contrary it is riveting in its own right.
The divorce between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon took seven years with the focus of the book being the downfall of Anne Boleyn which was done in three weeks. Reading Bring Up The Bodies gives the reader an obvious sense of urgency. Even though, I knew exactly what the outcome was to be, I did not want to stop reading nor could I put it down! I was hooked!
One fascinating aspect of Bring Up The Bodies was Hilary Mantel's scenes between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn .His distinct apathy towards her during her downfall, even though, it is expected on one hand, it is something entirely different when reading it. Mantel's descriptive prose makes one feel as if they are actually present. I found this quite chilling. Especially when you realize we are seeing them through Cromwell's eyes!
The last volume in this heady Cromwell trilogy will deal with the downfall of Thomas Cromwell after Henry VIII's failed marriage to Anne of Cleves. He has four years yet to live! It shall be a brilliant ending I'm sure!
Whether or not you are familiar with this provocative era in history or you are merely curious to see what all the fuss is about, pick up or download a copy and begin the journey...Come and meet Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and those wives Katherine Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and others...
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