Friday, August 24, 2012

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Paperback: 407 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Henry Holt USA 2012
Source: Advance Readers Edition from Marketing and Promotions Manager in exchange for an unbiased review.
First Sentences: His children are falling from the sky. He watches from horseback, acres of England stretching behind him; they drop, gilt-winged, each with a blood filled gaze.
Favourite Quote: 'For once, Jane Seymour has a blush of colour in her cheeks; or perhaps it is reflected from her gown, the soft clear rose of quince jelly.'
Review Quote:  ‘Picks up the body parts where “Wolf Hall” left off … literary invention does not fail her: she's as deft and verbally adroit as ever’ Margaret Atwood, Guardian
My Opinion: It may be fiercer but I enjoyed it even more.

An important update I read about today is that Wolf Hall/ Bring Up the Bodies is to be made into a television drama. Read the article here

If you read my review of Wolf Hall you will already know that while I eventually found it engrossing it took me awhile to get into, it was not the case this time as I was immersed from page one. Hilary Mantel's chronicle of one of the most well known periods in English history is meticulously researched as is shown in the tremendous attention to details. Tudor England comes alive on the page, the places, the people, as her enthralling writing works its magic on this sad tale.

The story picks up where Wolf Hall finishes, having followed Cromwell rise from his humble beginnings to becoming the right hand man of Henry VIII and concerning his divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the fall of Thomas More. 'Bring Up The Bodies' the second in the trilogy covers a much shorter time period, just about nine months in fact from the autumn of 1535 to the following summer. Henry is tiring of Anne and Katherine is seriously ill, dying in isolation. The action is much fiercer and intense as England struggles with the politics and conspiracies that seem to surround the Tudor court, making it an unhappy and sinister place. His subjects do not like the thought of more change and are still hoping that Anne may produce an heir to the throne. In contrast to the court Cromwell's home life is depicted as a very happy and settled one.

Most of us know what happened in those final weeks of Anne Boleyn's life but it is none the less an enthralling telling of the tale, incredibly sad as none of her plans to save her marriage seem to be working. Her husband is bitter that she has failed to produce a son and she knows that he is considering Jane Seymour  as her replacement. She must have known what her fate was to be, but right to the end she seems to have faith that she will win Henry round, to what I am not sure.

The fall of the House of Boleyn as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, the man we learnt at school was Henry VIII's hatchet man, is seen as much more human than one would have ever expected. It may not be true of course, this is fiction after all, but it is history approached from an angle that is refreshingly different. For this reason alone I am very much looking forward to the final part of the trilogy to see where Hilary Mantel takes the character of Thomas Cromwell next.

Macmillan Audio sent me this link to an Audio Clip Bring Up The Bodies Audio Clip which may tempt you.

Hilary Mantel discusses 'Bring Up The Bodies' - Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile

Hilary Mantel was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, England on 6 July 1952. She studied Law at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University. She was employed as a social worker, and lived in Botswana for five years, followed by four years in Saudi Arabia, before returning to Britain in the mid-1980s, where she still lives. In 1987 she was awarded the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for an article about Jeddah, and she was film critic for The Spectator from 1987 to 1991.  She is the author of nine previous novels, including A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, and Eight Months on Ghazzah Street. She has also written a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. Winner of the Hawthornden Prize, she reviews for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books.  Wolf Hall (2009) won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the sequel to which Bring Up The Bodies was published in May 2012.

Photo and Biographical Information is with thanks to the following sites. 

If you would like to know more about the woman behind the writing, I recommend you check out this interesting interview published in her local paper earlier this year, The Globe and Mail

        Linking today with Literary Friday


  1. I totally loved the author bio.
    Very inspiring!
    I liked the beginning sentence too.
    I want to read this so haven''t read the review! :)
    I have seen you've reviewed quite a few books by the same author!

  2. Divenita@ I have just reviewed Wolf Hall and this one, you need to read Wolf Hall first before this though. Also if you want to read my review do not worry there are no spoilers. They are something I do my best to avoid in my reviews.

  3. Great review! My experience with Wolf Hall was similar to yours, now I'm looking forward to reading Bring Up the Bodies this fall. This is the first I've heard of the television adaptation - great news!

  4. Thank you Lindy!
    I will read it, not right away but i will!

    Thanks again!

  5. I've heard so much about this book that it was interesting to read your review. I've never read anything of Mantel's - yet - but she's been on my list for a while.

  6. JoAnn@ Thanks, if your experience was similar to mine, then I hope you will enjoy this as much as I did. It is exciting about the TV adaptation.

    Divenita@ That is ok :)

    Talli@ You better get reading then while you still have time to concentrate. :)

  7. Super review, Linda. Wolf Hall has been on my TBR list for a couple of years. I really ned to read both, and I am intrigued that you like Bring Up the Bodies even more. Very well written review, and wow! Hilary Mantel has lived an extremely interesting life. Great review, and I appreciate your linking-up! Thanks so much!


  8. Ricki Jill@ I am delighted you liked the review. You had better read them before the TV production is made it is bound to be sold to the USA. :)

  9. Want to read Wolf Hall myself, have read all good things about the author.

  10. Vibha@ It is definitely a good idea to read Wolf Hall first.

  11. I haven't read any by this author but it sounds good Lindy, thanks for the fab review!


  12. Lainy@ Thanks, maybe I have tempted you to do so.

  13. Hi Linda,

    I have to admit that I still haven't read 'Wolf Hall', although I do have it on my shelves.

    I see that 'Bringing Up The Bodies' has followed in 'Wolf Hall's' wake, in being nominated for a Booker Prize. We should find out soon if Hilary now has 2 prizes under her belt.

    I haven't published the relevant post yet, but it has also just been announced that the BBC has been awarded the rights to make both books into television adaptations.

    Thanks for jogging my memory to get on and read 'Wolf Hall'.


  14. Fictionbooks@ You definitely need to get reading then before the BBC series is out next year, which I had heard about and included a link about at the start of my post.

  15. Hiya LindyLou I am catching up now after taking a blogging break for the month of August. I have Wolf Hall down on reserve at the public library, and have been looking forward to reading it. I wasn't aware of the new book, so thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Historical fiction is my preferred genre when I do read fiction, usually I am more one for non-fiction.

  16. Dolly@ Lovely to hear from you after your holiday. I do hope you enjoy Wolf Hall and will go on to read Bring up the Bodies as well. Had you heard it has also made The Booker Prize Short List for this year?

  17. Great review. I haven't read Wolf Hall (on the long list of meaning-to-get-to books), this sounds like a better read- must you read Wolf Hall first in order to enjoy this one?

    Marlene Detierro (Fishing The Rogue River)

    1. Yes I did enjoy the second one more Marlene, but do feel personally that I had a better understanding having read Wolf Hall first.


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