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Bring up the bodies,
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This review is from: Bring Up the Bodies (Hardcover)
We all know what happened to Anne Boleyn but Ms Mantel's exploration of the how from the point of view of the prime mover in her downfall, Thomas Cromwell, makes for an absorbing read.
Hilary Mantel is an accomplished novelist. She avoids the descriptions of the motivation of characters, unnecessary scene setting and plot reinforcement that often blight books by lesser writers.
Little is known about Thomas Cromwell but, continuing from Wolf Hall, Ms Mantel has created a credible character who, despite being described (with some justification) as `contemptible' by Katherine of Aragon, has the ability to evoke empathy and respect.
This said, I do feel that the author is more sympathetic towards the male protagonists than the female. Henry is depicted as rather more benign than I suspect he was, considering that he managed to dispose of four wives in one way or another and who knows what lay in store for Jane Seymour if fate hadn't intervened at an early stage in her marriage.
Anne Boleyn has been portrayed throughout history as a schemer, and Bring up the Bodies is no exception. Thomas Cromwell was also a schemer, albeit a more successful one; this time anyway. The difference between the two is that Ms Mantel has made the effort to add depth to Cromwell, but less so with Anne. There are exceptions, for example, in the manner of Anne's resignation to her fate, when she realizes she is beyond help and laughs at the knowledge that she has been out-manouvered by her former ally. I would have liked to see Anne's character developed further but this is primarily a novel written from Cromwell's perspective.
This minor point does not in any case detract from what is fundamentally a beautifully written book and an engrossing tale. I am looking forward to reading about Cromwell's fight to keep his head.