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Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
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Bring Up the Bodies (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Hilary Mantel

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2,8962021,995 (4.32)3 / 610
Member:sydamy
Title:Bring Up the Bodies
Authors:Hilary Mantel
Info:Fourth Estate (2012), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Prize Winners/Nominees
Rating:*****
Tags:2012, fiction, own, historical fiction, e-book, series, England, Henry VIII, Booker Prize winner, ToB

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Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (2012)

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English (203)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
Bringing Up the Bodies is the second of Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Wolf Hall was the story of Anne Boleyn's rise to power as she replaced King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. But Anne failed to provide Henry with a male heir and lost the king's favor. This novel is the story of how Anne is replace by Jane Seymour.

I listened to the audio version, read by Simon Vance. This had advantages and disadvantages. Because of Hilary Mantel's unusual writing style, I found it difficult at times to know who was speaking. Vance helped me there, by providing different voices to different characters. But audio books keep moving forward, especially if you are listening while driving, and I think I might have gotten more out of the early sections of the book if I had taken additional time with them. But after the accusations and the trial began, the book held my attention without fail.

This is Anne's story, written from Thomas Cromwell's point of view. Cromwell is the king's master secretary, which means he's a bit like the consigliere in The Godfather. He's told what to do and he does it no matter what it takes. For example, he has to interrogate Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, who had an early relationship with Anne. He forces him to adjust his story depending on the king's need to have it known that Anne was either not married previously or married previously.

The issue of Anne's guilt or innocence is interesting. Is she guilty of adultery or just an inability to give the king a living, male heir? And if she was guilty of adultery was she forced into the situation because she didn't believe she would give birth to a boy unless someone other than the king shared her bed?

A good example of the case against Anne occurs in the following excerpt. This is Henry speaking:

Cromwell, what does it mean when a woman turns herself about and about in the bed, offering herself this way and that? What would put it into her head to do such a thing?

There is only one answer, “Experience, Sir, of mens' desires and her own.” He does not need to say it.

Another aspect of this story I found interesting was that Thomas Cromwell seemed to be entirely consumed with the task of dissolving one of King Henry VIII's marriages and arranging another. I wondered who was working on the rest of the government's business. In many ways his priorities remind me of the priorities of our current congress. I wonder where Cromwell would be if he was alive today.

Bringing Up the Bodies is a good read for people with an interest in English history. The scenes feel authentic. The writing is beautiful, although a little hard to follow at times.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Oct 25, 2014 |
In this second volume of Hilary Mantel's trilogy, Thomas Cromwell comes across as an even more complex character than in Wolf Hall in that here his ruthless streak is revealed as he pursues a personal vendetta against men he perceives to have wronged his old master, Cardinal Wolsey, in the name of serving King Henry VIII. A naturally imposing figure, he strikes terror into the souls of his enemies without needing to resort to threats or violence. Again Hilary Mantel's prose brings all the characters to colourful life, so that you feel certain parts of dialogue or facts must be based on surviving documentary evidence. Both books (and no doubt the third as well) will certainly benefit from repeated readings to coax out every nuance and hidden layer. I still feel that there could be other ways to circumvent the somewhat clumsy use of male personal pronoun when there is a need to clarify as to who is referred to (he: Cromwell), as this jarred a little in a text that was otherwise fluid. I have no doubt the final volume will prove equally fascinating. ( )
  passion4reading | Oct 23, 2014 |
I was mildly terrified of two things when I donned my headphones and hit “play” on my iPod the first time I listened to this trilogy: (1) That I wouldn’t be able to keep all the people named Thomas straight, and (2) that Mantel’s use of “he” to mean Cromwell even if it should logically refer to someone else would leave me confused and frustrated.

Turns out neither was as bad as I’d feared! I very much enjoyed Bring Up the Bodies and its prequel. Full review is posted on Erin Reads. ( )
  erelsi183 | Oct 2, 2014 |
Beautifully written as always, but disappointing when compared to Wolf Hall. ( )
  lucypick | Sep 23, 2014 |
The sad story of Anne Boleyn has been told many, many times, but never from the point of view of the Henry VIII's favorite minister, the scheming and treacherous, Thomas Cromwell. Covering the last nine months of Boleyn's life, from September, 1535 to her execution in May, 1536, the book follows Cromwell's dilemma: how to rid Henry of his second wife who has not successfully born him a son and heir so he can try once more with Jane Seymour. This would have to be a delicate business as Cromwell had largely engineered the rationale for Henry to end his marriage to Katherine of Aragon in order to marry Boleyn, and by the fact that Katherine, although ailing, was still living.

Hillary Mantel, masterfully, completes the story she started with Wolf Hall as she tells the story of how Cromwell navigated through the minefield of his enemies to bring Boleyn up on multiple charges of treason after Katherine's timely death and the miscarriage of Anne's last child. Always sounding like the lawyer he was, Cromwell coldly and calculatingly makes his case and arrests his suspects, their confessions largely assured through his methods of "enhanced interrogation," and thus, the outcome preordained. Ms. Mantel, however, tells this story so brilliantly that you keep turning the pages as though you are reading a thriller and do not know the ending. ( )
  etxgardener | Sep 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 203 (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)
 

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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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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