Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
|Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Wonderful follow-up to the Booker-winning Wolf Hall - just as rich, vivid, and absorbing. Don't miss it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 411||Date: May 2012|
|Publisher: Fourth Estate|
WINNER: MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2012
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2012
Shortlisted for Costa Novel Award 2012
Thomas Cromwell is now very far from his humble beginnings. He is Henry VIII's chief minister. Katherine of Aragorn is no longer Queen. The Princess Mary has been disinherited. Anne Boleyn wears the crown and has produced a daughter, Elizabeth. But there is no sign of a son and Henry is beginning to regret his secession from Rome. We pick up from Wolf Hall during the royal progress of 1535 and from there, we chart the destruction of the new Queen.
Now that Cromwell has made it, now that he wields power and influence, we see less of the common man and life in London's teeming Tudor streets than we did in Wolf Hall. I missed the poor people and Bring up the Bodies loses some of its flavour and richness because they are missing. But we gain tension and claustrophobia now the focus is all about the court, its machinations and Henry's desire to be rid of Anne, his cuckoo queen. Mantel paints such a picture of the dangerous calculations and the risks that all participants must take, whether they want to or not, that it feels alive, all about you, as you read.
In the end, Cromwell finds guilty men. But men who are probably not guilty of what they are charged with. Does this matter? To Cromwell, not really. His elegant solution brings some kind of posthumous justice for Cardinal Wolsey and this formative relationship still occupies much of Cromwell's mind. How to follow him? How to avoid being brought down? And how to create an England with a vibrant and forward-looking economy?
Mantel describes Cromwell as a modern man. He understands that the destruction of the monasteries will have a devastating effect on England's poor. He wants to make the rich men responsible for both job creation and charity and he knows how difficult this will be. And yet, this forward-thinker man is not an anachronism. He walks and talks as a man of his time and with a fervent - if hidden - religious fervour and commitment to family. I can see why Mantel's Cromwell has proved so popular across the pond.
It's as beautiful, rich, vivid and evocative as its predecessor, is Bring up the Bodies, and I commend it heartily to you.
If you're looking for equally classy fiction in the historical genre, we can recommend The Master of Bruges by Terence Morgan, The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric and The Long Song by Andrea Levy. They're three very different books, but you won't forget any of them in a hurry.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel at Amazon.com.
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel is in the Man Booker Prize 2012.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.