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Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
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Bring Up the Bodies (2012)

by Hilary Mantel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wolf Hall Trilogy (2)

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3,1622151,770 (4.32)3 / 665
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English (217)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
The continuing saga of Thomas Cromwell, fixer to Henry VIII, takes us from the end of [Wolf Hall] (which was also the end of Thomas More) to the high drama of the beheading of Ann Boleyn and her supposed lovers. Mantel has amended her use of 'he' a bit, sometimes even naming Cromwell as the speaker, and the result is a little less intimacy, I think, although I'm sure it was a little easier to write.

Cromwell himself loses some of the stature I gathered from Mantel's first portrait. She shows his actions more and more as ends justifying means; not only does he do what is necessary to satisfy a childish monarch, but he takes the opportunity to weave his own revenge into the event. We know his nature and background already, but here he is much more the spider in the midst of his very sticky web.

Mantel owes us the third book, which of course will end with another beheading. I am eager to see how we get from here to there. ( )
  ffortsa | Apr 18, 2015 |
Bring Up The Bodies was, for me, less interesting than Wolf Hall. What I liked in Wolf Hall was Mantel’s detailed picture of life and politics in an England changing from a medieval world to a modern one. It illuminated themes that are still relevant, such as the relationship between the individual and the state (in the person of the ruler), religion, science and economy. Most of these are shifted far to the background in Bring Up The Bodies, or absent entirely.
What we do have is the story of how a ruthless political operative manipulates the machinery of the state for the benefit of his faction, as well as for reasons of personal satisfaction and profit. This of course remains a current theme and there is some interest in seeing exactly how Thomas Cromwell played the power game in the Tudor court (at least as Mantel sees it). But I find I am less interested in the grimy details of who lied to whom, or how a succession of victims is coerced to acquiesce in their own trials. Wolf Hall had a broader context that made for more interesting reading. Thinking of it now, it seems to illustrate the Stalinist purges and the show trials of the 1930s more than contemporary political manipulation (although no doubt there are contemporary parallels).
It is interesting perhaps that Cromwell struggles so single-mindedly to amass power and wealth at the top of the political pyramid in a world that despised him for his common origins. He thinks frequently about how to protect himself should his political fortunes shift, and how to ensure his son a secure place when he is no longer there to arrange things for his son. (And his son does not seem to have the same strength of character of his father, although it seems that he survived to establish his own aristocratic line.) Yet we know that his predecessor and mentor, Cardinal Wolsey, ended up in the Tower, that the historical Cromwell was also arrested and executed. Mantel opens the book with a dream of Cromwell’s children falling from the sky, an image that recurs from time to time. In spite of this rather poignant perspective, though, Cromwell remains an unappealing character. And it is telling that his only friendly relationships seem to be with the foreign ambassadors whose ambitions he wants to block.
In Wolf Hall, Cromwell was a more sympathetic figure as a man of science and reason, particularly as opposed to the fanatical Thomas More. Here, although Mantel uses personal details to reflect on Cromwell’s loss of his wife and daughter, or his hopes for his son, there is very little to make him likeable, particularly when he is so blatant in his personal and political scheming. And Mantel’s style of writing in the present tense with a third person pronoun, although it implies a very personal point of view, is rather distancing since a reader has to pay careful attention to keep track of who the pronouns refer to. Mantel’s rich and poetic descriptive detail does help to bring a reader into the time and place, but this time it was not enough to overcome the limited perspective.
It appears that Mantel wants to create an iconoclastic portrait, a counter to the usual heroic focus on Henry and More. In this, I think she succeeds. No one who reads her books on Cromwell can think of Henry’s rule without being strongly influenced by the shape she puts on it. She creates a strong and detailed portrait of a dramatic figure from history, which perhaps justifies the awards she has won. It’s just disappointing that the portrait in this volume is not more engaging. ( )
  rab1953 | Apr 16, 2015 |
The second book by Hilary Mantel telling of Thomas Cromwell and his role in the affairs of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn etc. The author has chosen a quirky format, not quite first person, so we have the repeated use of phrases such as "he, Cromwell, ...." But this is a minor annoyance in a book that is up there with the best of historical fiction.
I don't have the detailed knowledge to fully judge her historical accuracy, but every issue I checked was spot on. I'm sure there will some that will have questions about her interpretations, but this is historical fiction, not history. I loved it.
Read April 2015. ( )
  mbmackay | Apr 14, 2015 |
Thomas Cromwell's career continues in this next installment. While Wolf Hall focused on the fall of Katherine and the rise of Anne, this novel is about Anne's disgrace and ultimate execution. I love the author's writing and story-telling ability. This novel is expertly researched and vivid. The character of Cromwell leaps off the page. Loved it! ( )
  Juva | Apr 5, 2015 |
For a writer to provide you with such detailed vision of events which took place nearly 500 years ago is no small feat. Her prose is nothing short of extraordinary and I hope the author will continue to shed light on the exploits of the curious Mr. Cromwell. ( )
  JenBurge | Mar 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
Here, as elsewhere, Mantel’s real triumph is her narrative language. It’s not the musty Olde English of so much historical fiction, but neither is it quite contemporary. The Latinate “exsanguinates” is a perfect 16th-century touch, and so is that final, Anglo-Saxon “gore.” In some of her books, Mantel is pretty scabrous in her descriptions of present-day England, its tawdriness and cheesiness and weakness for cliché and prettifying euphemism. “Bring Up the Bodies” (the title refers to the four men executed for supposedly sleeping with Anne) isn’t nostalgic, exactly, but it’s astringent and purifying, stripping away the cobwebs and varnish of history, the antique formulations and brocaded sentimentality of costume-­drama novels, so that the English past comes to seem like something vivid, strange and brand new.
 
Is Bring Up the Bodies better than, worse than or equal to Wolf Hall? While lacking, necessarily, the shocking freshness of the first book, it is narrower, tighter, at times a more brilliant and terrifying novel. Of her historical interpretations, Mantel says in her afterword that she is "making the reader a proposal, an offer", but what is striking is how little concerned she is with the reader. Her prose makes no concessions to the disorientated: a moment's distraction and you have to start the page again. Mantel, like Cromwell, seems not to mind if we are there or not: she is writing, as he was living, for herself alone.
 
"Mantel knows what to select, how to make her scenes vivid, how to kindle her characters."
added by bookfitz | editThe New Yorker, James Wood (May 7, 2012)
 
We read historical fiction for the same reason we keep watching Hamlet: it's not what, it's how. And although we know the plot, the characters themselves do not. Mantel leaves Cromwell at a moment that would appear secure: four of his ill-wishing enemies, in addition to Anne, have just been beheaded, and many more have been neutralised. England will have peace, though it's "the peace of the hen coop when the fox has run home". But really Cromwell is balancing on a tightrope, with his enemies gathering and muttering offstage. The book ends as it begins, with an image of blood-soaked feathers.

But its end is not an end. "There are no endings," says Mantel. "If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. This is one." Which will lead us to the final instalment, and to the next batch of Henry's wives and Cromwell's machinations. How much intricate spadework will it take to "dig out" Cromwell, that "sleek, plump, and densely inaccessible" enigma? Reader, wait and see.
 
Two years ago something astonishingly fair happened in the world of prestigious prizes: the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for 2009 both went to the right winner. The book was Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” and it would have dwarfed the competition any year. “Wolf Hall” was a historical novel that ingeniously revisited well-trod territory (the early marriages of Henry VIII), turned the phlegmatic villain Thomas Cromwell into the best-drawn figure and easily mixed 16th-century ambience with timeless bitchery.

Despite a hugely complicated cast of characters and Ms. Mantel’s teasing way of preferring pronouns to proper names, it wound up providing an experience of sheer bliss. It was a hard act to follow. But the follow-up is equally sublime.
added by kidzdoc | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (May 2, 2012)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hilary Mantelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pracher, RickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willems, IneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'Am I not like other men? Am I not? Am I not?'

Henry VIII to Eustache Chapuys, Imperial ambassador
Dedication
Once again to Mary Robertson; after my right hearty commendacions, and with spede.
First words
His children are falling from the sky.
Quotations
What is the nature of the border between truth and lies?...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.
[The Italians] say the road between England and Hell is worn bare from treading feet, and runs downhill all the way.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
"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?"-- Provided by publisher.

"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?"-- Provided by publisher.
[retrieved from loc.gov (Library of Congress)]
Haiku summary
Anne Boleyn's pride comes
Before her fall. By the end,
She's a head shorter.
(passion4reading)

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"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?"-- "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?"--… (more)

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