KimberlyB, June 27, 2013 (view all comments by KimberlyB)
I didn't think it was possible, but Bring Up the Bodies is even more of an achievement than Wolf Hall. And, that's saying something! Mantel makes the reign of Henry VIII, which has been written about in hundreds of books, fresh with her insightful writing and her unique focus on Thomas Cromwell. A main complaint by many about Wolf Hall was the confusion of pronouns, namely 'he'. Mantel seems to have taken the criticism and fully corrected it here; if she uses 'he' ambiguously, she often corrects it like this: "'I don't think the king means that,' he says; he, Cromwell."
Mantel seems entirely at ease with her writing in Bring Up the Bodies, and I felt as though I was a proverbial fly on the wall throughout much of the story. Mantel writes as though she is channeling the actual historical figures--they are entirely believable. Cromwell once again proves to be a fascination figure, and I particularly enjoyed Mantel's description of him in the Author's Note at the end of Bring Up the Bodies (referring to his status at the end of the story--another book is in the works titled, The Mirror and the Light): "Meanwhile, Mr. Secretary remains sleek, plump and densely inaccessible, like a choice plum in a Christmas pie; but I hope to continue my efforts to dig him out." It's an apt way to describe such a shrewd and evasive man.
On the surface, Bring Up the Bodies appears to be a hardcore historical fiction novel, but it's FUNNY. I laughed more reading this than I have reading some lighthearted comedic books. But, I will say that the humor is mostly geared toward those who are familiar with the history and the people involved. This is no fluffy read--it requires your undivided attention. Mantel is a genius with words and I think it's fantastic that she won the Booker Prize a second time with this work. I can't wait to read her final book about Cromwell. I have no doubt that it will be equally as amazing as its predecessors.
cyndiec, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by cyndiec)
Hilary Mantel won the Booker for this and its predecessor Wolf Hall. That she became only the third person to win two Bookers is understandable when you read this series about the much hated Thomas Cromwell, a commoner who rose to great power doing the bidding of Henry VIII. Mantel can somehow relate Cromwell's deadly accomplishments without succumbing to creating a monster is quite astounding. She handles the complexities of life in a treacherous time with fascinating skill.
cyndiec, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by cyndiec)
Hilary Mantel has an eccentric style of not segregating characters' dialogue by the usual devices of quotes, new lines, 'he said' attributions, etc.. This was at first annoying but eventually came to seem essential to the pace and to the creation of a necessary paradoxical atmosphere. She is a master of character development. In this sequel to "Wolf Hall" she returns to her unlikely protagonist Thomas Cromwell. In Wolf Hall he was instrumental in getting Henry VIII what he wanted - Anne Boleyn. In this novel Henry wants the once lusted after Anne Boleyn to disappear so he can wed Jane Seymour. That Mantel can somehow relate Cromwell's deadly accomplishments without succumbing to creating a monster is quite astounding. She handles the complexities of life in a treacherous time with fascinating skill.
AnnieH, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by AnnieH)
I didn't think it possible to top Wolf Hall -- an astonishing work of fiction -- but Mantel has done it with the sequel, Bring up the Bodies. This brings back all of the joys of reading.
Would the sequel live up to expectations? Actually, yes. Hilary Mantel's talent for rich detail and sensuous atmosphere is still apparent, and Bring Up the Bodies is, in some ways, a much more gripping, riveting, and textured read than Wolf Hall. For one thing, the plotting is tighter. We know what's going to happen, but watching Cromwell plotting, planning, and out-maneuvering his rivals and enemies still makes for extremely fascinating reading.
by Sheila N.
by Doug C.,
Hilary Mantel continues the story of Cromwell, Henry VIII, and those pesky wives. Her stylistic form works to slow down the reader so we can enjoy what she does with language and character. And she pokes some subtle fun at anyone peeved at her pronoun usage in Wolf Hall.
by Doug C.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"When last we saw Thomas Cromwell, hero of Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, he'd successfully moved emperors, queens, courtiers, the pope, and Thomas More to secure a divorce and a new, younger queen for his patron, Henry the VIII. Now, in the second book of a planned trilogy, Cromwell, older, tired, with more titles and power, has to get Henry out of another heirless marriage. The historical facts are known: this is not about what happens, but about how. And armed with street smarts, vast experience and connections, a ferociously good memory, and a patient taste for revenge, Mantel's Cromwell is a master of how. Like its predecessor, the book is written in the present tense, rare for a historical novel. But the choice makes the events unfold before us: one wrong move and all could be lost. Also repeated is Mantel's idiosyncratic use of 'he:' regardless of the rules of grammar, rest assured 'he' is always Cromwell. By this second volume, however, Mantel has taught us how to read her, and seeing Cromwell manipulate and outsmart the nobles who look down on him, while moving between his well-managed domestic arrangements and the murky world of accusations and counteraccusations is pure pleasure. Cromwell may, as we learn in the first volume, look 'like a murderer,' but he's mighty good company. Agent: Bill Hamilton, A.M. Heath." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by The New Yorker,
"Mantel knows what to select, how to make her scenes vivid, how to kindle her characters. She seems almost incapable of abstraction or fraudulence; she instinctively grabs for the reachably real....In short, this novelist has the maddeningly unteachable gift of being interesting."
by The New York Times Book Review,
"[Bring Up the Bodies] is 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."
by The New York Times,
"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....It was a hard act to follow. But the follow-up is equally sublime....That ironic ending will be no cliffhanger for anyone even remotely familiar with Henry VIIIs trail of carnage. But in Bring Up the Bodies it works as one. The wonder of Ms. Mantel's retelling is that she makes these events fresh and terrifying all over again."
"Bring Up the Bodies isn't just her boldest book; it's also her best — and it reaffirms Mantel's reputation as one of England's greatest living novelists."
by Vanity Fair,
"Hilary Mantel made waves in 2009 with her Man Booker Prize-winning page-turner, Wolf Hall....The second in her planned trilogy, Bring Up the Bodies stalks Anne Boleyn and the soap-opera worthy machinations of Cromwell and his evil allies to bring down the powerful wife of the king. Who knew history could be so sexy?"
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