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Bring Up the Bodies (2012)

by Hilary Mantel

Other authors: Hege Mehren (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wolf Hall Trilogy (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,4553091,384 (4.33)3 / 912
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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English (300)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (307)
Showing 1-5 of 300 (next | show all)
I waited several years for no good reason to read this sequel after reading Wolf Hall. I loved WH and I fully expected to love this, but my enthusiasm was tempered by a couple of issues. Firstly my ability to concentrate on reading is low right now due to the stress of the corona virus situation. This isn't the most complicated book but it also isn't a breezy beach read either. So I had to focus on who characters were and got some of them confused. There are too may dukes and earls to keep them straight. The other issue is that Thomas Cromwell is no longer a sympathetic character to me. He is still a likeable person but his duty to King Henry to end the marriage to Anne Boleyn brought about unethical methods that were disappointing. It seemed like men were executed because they had crossed Cromwell at some point and not necessarily because they were guilty of adultery with Anne. Mantel's writing was still amazing and I felt like I was there in 1535/6 at times, but this book did not blow me away as Wolf Hall did. ( )
  boldforbs | Jan 15, 2021 |
Bring Up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall, the 2009 Booker prize winner by Hilary Mantel. The first book tells of the rise of Anne Boleyn, as she eclipses Catherine of Aragon. This is the beginning of Henry VIII's Reformation, which gives birth to the Church of England. But what goes up must come down, and Bring Up the Bodies describes the other side of that meteoric climb: Anne’s fall from grace as she is eclipsed in turn by Jane Seymour, because Anne could not deliver a son and heir. Ironically, it is her child Elizabeth who will eventually claim the throne, but that is not part of this story.

I haven't mentioned the hero of both books yet, but it is not any royal personage; it is Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is the instrument of the King’s desires, but also an able and subtle influencer with a Midas touch. When the king wishes to put Catherine aside and bring Anne up, Cromwell makes it so. And when the king tires of Anne and wishes to put her aside, again it is Cromwell to the rescue. Despite this description he is no ruthless brute, but a modern man who favors education for women, among other causes, and I grew to like him very much.

Two technical comments. First, I have to wonder if Hilary Mantel heard many complaints about her overuse of an ambiguous “he” in the first book, because here she often (over?) clarifies with a “he, Cromwell,” as in “he said, he, Cromwell....” Second, the title phrase does not refer to digging up dead bodies, but to bringing forth prisoners from the Tower for trial. Yes, they may likely be dead soon, but they're not dead yet.

At any rate, the story is told in exquisite historical detail and yet in a present tense that keeps the reader in the moment, and almost always in suspense. I found both books to be enthralling masterworks of historical fiction.

Follow me and my Booker Prize reading project at www.methodtohermadness.com
( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
This second book picks up with the same intensity, pacing, and atmosphere of its predecessor. Focusing entirely on the fall of Anne Boleyn, the scope of this second volume isn't nearly as grand as Wolf Hall.

Everything I had to say of Wolf Hall is true here. There's no divorcing one of these tales from the next. (See what I did there?) ( )
  chrisblocker | Oct 27, 2020 |
i want my review of this book to be good and coherent because hilary mantel is one of my favourite writers, her prose just knocks my socks off, i love this series and i love how she situates you inside his, thomas cromwell's, mind & memories, how you basically get a stream of consciousness as his thoughts and actions jump between the present, the past, and his own speculation. also i'm OBSESSED with the he, thomas cromwell, conceit, and i physically cannot refrain from imitating it whenever i write about these books.

HOWEVER. my actual review is just (cups hands around my mouth) (starts howling) (doesn't stop)

for various reasons i like this one much more than wolf hall, though i think the main reason is how tightly plotted it is. i loved wolf hall but it's an ambitious thing, spans so many years, so many happenings. bring up the bodies is pretty much about one thing only and it explores that one thing luxuriantly and with love & affection for detail, unafraid of intimacy both with characters and places and ideas. i'll reserve my judgement for after i get my hands on a paperback of the mirror and the light (i am NOT spending AUD$45 on the hardback and i figure since i've got the others as physical copies i want to continue that) but this one may well end up on my favourites shelf as the series representative. i feel satisfied but i'm also sad it's finished and that i'll have to read something else now :-( ( )
  i. | Oct 19, 2020 |
Excellent follow up to Wolfe Hall. ( )
  VictoriaJZ | Oct 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 300 (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.
 
Geen gehijg tussen de lakens in Bring up the bodies (Het boek Henry), geen hete kussen bij maanlicht. Toch is Hilary Mantels versie van de perikelen van de Tudors de meest opwindende ooit.
 
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.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mantel, Hilaryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mehren, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pracher, RickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willems, IneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Am I not a man 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 harty 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.
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.
You have always regarded women as disposable, my lord, and you cannot complain if in the end they think the same of you.
These light nights find him at his desk. Paper is precious. Its offcuts and remnants are not discarded, but turned over, reused. Often he takes up an old letter-book and finds the jottings of chancellors long dust, of bishop-ministers now cold under inscriptions of their merits.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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?

No library descriptions found.

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)
Just desserts are served,
Uneasy lies the queen's head,
The usurper's fate.
(hillaryrose7)

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