Bring Up The Bodies
By Hilary Mantel
Completed May 30, 2012
The story surrounding the marriage of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn has been the subject of many books, but Hilary Mantel focuses her angle from a different perspective – that of Thomas Cromwell – in her highly anticipated novel, Bring Up The Bodies. As a sequel to her award-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel continues illuminating one of Britain’s most mysterious historical figures, forming Thomas Cromwell into a beguiling character.
In Bring Up The Bodies, the marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is three years old, and so far, the two have only produced one daughter. Compounding this situation, Henry’s eye is wandering (again) as he becomes smitten with Jane Seymour. Cromwell, seeing an opportunity to rid the court of all things Boleyn, begins masterminding a plot to get rid of Anne and replace her with Jane. As circumstances unfold, Anne is accused of adultery and eventually executed. While Cromwell didn’t hold the sword, her blood was on his hands.
In this fictional depiction of Cromwell, we see him as the great orchestrator. He does Henry’s dirty deeds, and accomplishes the tasks so beautifully, it is almost a work of art. Additionally, we learn that Cromwell only pursues tasks that benefit himself and his loved ones. Cromwell can persuade Henry like no other. By novel’s end, though, Mantel hints at Cromwell’s inevitable demise – a subject surely to captivate audiences as she completes the third book in this trilogy.
Compared to Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies is more approachable and action-packed. It is also half the length. Mantel gets better with each page, and Cromwell’s character provides a muse for her storytelling. Honestly, I was not sure if I would like the sequel, but I do. It is everything a good novel should be. If you have an interest in historical fiction, be sure to get your hands on Bring Up The Bodies. ( )
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.