33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2013
Don't get me wrong - both books are fantastic BUT DON'T BUY THE KINDLE TWO BOOK EDITION. Not only is it more expensive than the two Kindle books bought separately but even more infuriatingly there is some fault in the two book edition which means that when you close your Kindle it repeatedly goes back to the start so you lose your place. To add to the annoyance you then can't page through the chapters to re-find it... really cross and want my money back.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2013
i started the series expecting a lot from it . after reading the first chapter , my eyes were just stuck to the book like the binding of the pages. the outcome of the book was a million times of what i expected it to be. im so glad that i started reading the series after the sequel had been released . If bring up the bodies had not been released when i finished wolf hall , i wold have been in the state of impecible misery. although i do wait for the next book , but i even dread it . finger's crossed .
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2012
Promos for these books, and a BBC interview with the author, spurred me to buy both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. They follow the life and intrigues of Thomas Cromwell, 'fixer' for Henry Tudor, the 8th English King Henry, notorious in Britain's history for his shifting passions and failure to produce an official male heir. The novels takes us through the triumph, fall and execution of Anne Boleyn and the elevation of Jane Seymour.
The violence, disease and barbaric cruelty of the age are vivid. It was a time when holding the 'wrong' religious views in England led to death by burning at the stake - Mantel makes her otherwise quite diplomatic descriptions of these events perfectly grisly by noting how, if the wind blew the wrong way, it took the victim even longer to die. I didn't exactly have nightmares but there are tough moments in reading!
In counterbalance: Thomas Cromwell's egalitarian household - he takes care of his people and offers opportunity where he can. There are glimpses of his early career on the continent that suggest reasons for his generosity. Assorted royal hangers-on and their dependents and servants are portrayed with engaging foibles, viciousness, humour and fears.
You can tell that vast amounts of research - and empathy - have been poured into these books. It's desperately difficult for the historical writer to avoid 'look what I know' info dumps... Mantel certainly depicts a richly detailed, complex world.
...I wouldn't have been quite so jarred by the 'masterly technique' (really you shouldn't have to notice it...) were it not for some tricks of style that alienated me.
- I don't enjoy narratives that flick between present events and flashback. That's just my taste. You might judge that Thomas' situation prompts his memory. That the drip feed of background about Thomas' earlier career adds to the interest and tension of where we see him. I suppose that was the intention. To me, these sections are muddling and get in the way of the story.
- I absolutely loathe the use of 'he' and 'him' when Cromwell's name or some other title should be re-stated. So many sentences - with paragraph layout contributing to the confusion - use 'he' when it's simply not clear if that means Cromwell or another character. Sometimes the author is obliged to write 'he, Cromwell...' which is just plain bad. Meant presumably as a distinctive twist of style, it fails. Clunky!
And those two things really spoiled my enjoyment of these otherwise good books. I can only speculate that Mantel wanted a way to distinguish her work from other good historical novels. Instead, I can't honestly say I think Wolf Hall or Bring Up The Bodies are better than other serious contenders in the genre, and I do think they're badly weakened by gimmicks.
Will I buy the much vaunted third book? Possibly. But I'll have to be in the right mood to tackle it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
I purchased Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies together because of the excellent reviews they received. I have just given up attempting to read Wolf Hall after about 250 pages. I felt that I was never quite sure who was speaking to whom in the novel, and what exactly was going on half the time! I have read quite a number of historical novels before by authors like Alison Wier, Phillipa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick (to name but a few), and I invariably found that I was eager to get back to their books again, but that feeling was totally missing with this book. On reading other peoples reviews, I realise I am very much in the minority in this one, but as I was so disappointed I felt I had to write my first ever review about a book. Watch this space for my comments on Bringing Up the Bodies when I finally pluck up enough courage to embark on reading this one!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2013
She writes in the third person but as there are so many 'he' charachters it is difficult to tell which she is referring to sometimes - that said it is a cracking good read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
The books themselves are among my all time favourites but the Kindle version, on a brand new Paperwhite keeps giving an error saying that it must be re-downloaded from the cloud - which I did - same problem. I'd given the Kindle to my Mum and these random, recurrent errors have really put her off the device.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2013
The title of this ebook is "Bring Up The Bodies 2 Volume Edition". Would be purchasers should be aware that there are 6 foreign language dictionaries embedded in this sale, which you may or more probably will not find useful. I spent a long time on the Kindle help line to try to get these removed and to have only the book that I had ordered. I was given incorrect advice and finally had to cancel the whole purchase for a refund. I know from all the reviews that I have read that the book itself is an outstanding read written by a prize winning author, but if you do not want 4 x Chinese, 1 x Italian and 1 x Japanese dictionaries cluttering up your account my advice is to buy the books elsewhere.
on 8 April 2015
I first saw the BBC miniseries and then had to read the books.
I absolutely loved Wolf Hall, the first of the trilogy. Mantel's writing style is wonderful: intelligent, sometimes witty, sometimes stark, she not only brings the characters to life, sometimes with just a few words of description or observation, but also the time and environment they lived and breathed in. There is love, loyalty, betrayal, ambition, faith and despotism and so much more. I especially liked the touches of humanity, the little details of humour, of everyday life, that make the people so much more than historical figures: I felt like I "knew" them. And the surrounding great history of Henry VIII and his epoch is all the more fascinating for this new and vital focus; there is never any boredom that might come from knowing what happened next, who won (for a while) and who was executed.
The second book, Bring up the bodies, carries on in a very similar style, so at first the ambiance feels very familiar. But there are subtle changes, subtle novelties; the atmosphere becomes more uncertain, sometimes sinister, hurried - after all, the book covers the short period of Queen Anne's downfall. Don't get me wrong: the writing is never hurried, because Mantel takes her time rounding up the suspects behind Anne's back and determining how she will be gotten rid of. The king wants her out, so how are we going to do it? The final solution isn't immediately at hand, but bit by bit falls into place. Cromwell remains very believable and still likable as in the first book, even as his actions may seem despicable to today's reader (think of condemning someone for a crime you know they didn't do, even if they deserve being punished for another crime they were never convicted of).
In sum, I preferred the first book, though the second is great, too. Perhaps the style just didn't seem as intelligently novel as in the first book: I think Mantel lived up to expectations after the brilliant "Wolf Hall", but for me at least, she did not exceed them. Rather unfair, actually: she was only as great as in the first, not better, which makes the first the stand-out achievement in my mind. Nevertheless, I eagerly await the third book and will no doubt re-read the first ones and certainly recommend them to anyone.
on 16 March 2015
This is not the type of fiction that I'd normally choose to read. So captivated was I, however, by the recent, brilliant adaptation of the novels for television and so impressed by reviews of the books, I took the plunge and ordered the two-volume, Kindle version. Page-turner! Clever, controlled of use of arcane terminology and a beautiful command of language give us an insight into life during Henry's reign: hard, often cruel and dangerous, with an incredible gulf between the privileged and the common people. If I can never read this without summoning up the faces of the characters from the television production, that is no bad thing for that was drama of the highest quality. This book fleshes out the series with images, sights, smells, and a richer understanding of the complex, political machinations and deep piety underlying all the intrigue and religious turmoil in the society. Quite apart from being hugely entertaining and an engrossing, thought-provoking read the book has rekindled my interest in the actual history. I admire the fact that Cromwell is treated not as an absolute, treacherous villain but as a gifted but fallible human being caught up in and competing in a perilous game with rich rewards and the harshest of penalties. I can't wait for the concluding book of the trilogy to be published.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
I make no claim to any academic provenance that would justify criticism of these books which I quite enjoyed but I'm not sure that either should have qualified for a Booker Prize. Maybe it was because I was reading them on a Kindle which allows far fewer sentences a page so I got Kindler's thumb from all the to-ing and fro-ing through the pages when I tried to work out who was speaking or thinking. (Generally it was Cromwell but one could only be certain when Mantel actually used the phrase: "He, Cromwell, thinks..." otherwise I was Kindler's thumbing it backwards and forwards to check and so found the grammar irritating}. Maybe I was just reading to fast that caused the problem but the constant stop/start I had to do to check to what character the narrative referred was what stopped it flowing well for me. She has some wonderful turns of phrase and descriptive sentencesthat I would have to keep gong back to read again as they were so delicious!