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Bring up the Bodies
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on 13 February 2017
This is not so much a historical novel as an inspired portrait of one man; you can feel deeply how Cromwell's character and beliefs shaped the course of English history. Although the historical detail is well researched, the story transcends the facts; the detail of Cromwell's daughter's peacock-feather wings is as poignant and somehow as significant as the fall of a Queen.
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If anyone watched the TV version before reading this book, as I did, they might like me find it impossible to imagine the court of Henry VIII inhabited by anyone other than those actors. I thought the TV series was brilliant and as the book is exactly the same as far as I can tell, i don't think anyone would be disappointed whichever way round they enjoy both.
Short of time travel what better way to experience the ways of the court, the arbitrary nature of the law and how precarious it was to be close to the king.
Hilary Mantel has an extraordinary talent with words. At the beheading of Anne Boleyn: "a sound like a whistle through a keyhole: the body exsanguinates, and its flat little presence becomes a puddle of gore."
My dictionary describes exsanguinates as "rarely used," and this book is a rare treat, hopefully to be followed by the final act, both on TV and on the page.
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on 12 May 2017
Thomas Cromwell has come to life in this extraordinary novel and its predecessor. And so has the incredible period itself. I have nothing but praise for Hilary Mantel's dazzling prose and her psychological insights. One awaits the conclusion of the trilogy with keen anticipation!
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on 27 January 2018
For me wolf hall was slow and, at times very confusing. The fact there are 4 thomas's didn't help, and the author would write "he said" without it being clear who "he" was! This book glides along at a very good pace, the characters are well established and he, Cromwell, as he is now referred to throughout is a wonderful subject for a book like this. Can't wait for the next installment
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on 4 February 2016
I bought this book twice - once in paperback, which I found very heavy to handle for reading in bed, so I re-ordered it on my Kindle, which was just fine. I have enjoyed every minute of reading this book, just as much as the first volume (Wolf Hall). So much looking forward to reading the third volume, which I presume isn't written yet?
I have been waiting a long time to find some reading matter that would give me a real interest in English history, rather than the history of the French Revolution which has always fascinated me (and yes, I have bought the paperback of Hilary Mantel's book but not got it onto the Kindle yet). After reminding myself all the way through that I am reading a NOVEL, I am now ready to read a biography of Thomas Cromwell as well as some of the other characters in these books. Thank you Hilary Mantel (I haven't seen the tv series but will be asking for it shortly on DVD for my birthday).
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on 4 February 2016
Excellent book which is a further part of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It describes Thomas Cromwell's further involvement in Henry VIII's personal and political life. As with the earlier part of the trilogy, characters are described so well that you feel you know them and understand their motivations. Details of everyday life in Tudor England are provided, which fill out and make more real the times the book covers. No doubt there is a little bias towards Thomas Cromwell. He was not "lily white" but had a rough side and was essentially a pragmatist and a survivor- essential qualities for achievement for a person who was low-born.
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on 6 July 2013
A real feel and insight into Tudor England - the power and dependency of King - his precariousness - his ego - his vanity - his indulgent guilt - it is all about Henry. But not the book - this is all about Cromwell - ot at least through his eyes - his humble and brutal birth - his status at court - his history with Europe and religion - Wolsey. His indispensability to Henry - as Ann Boleyn discovers after Katherine.
Cromwell is complex and fascinatingly portrayed - he is real - we can see him as he bulks out in older age - we believe in him as his household do and we care for him despite knowing his capabilities in the service of King and self - he is a pragmatist - he gives us a rationale for his behavior and we buy in to him totally, or at least I did. This is powerful literature - she is genius - she is funny - she is authentic and this authenticity enables us to accept that while she is filling some of the historical blanks how could we possibly do this for ourselves reading the archives? Who could animate these pictures of Tudor culture life and politics for us but Hillary? I can hear the great roars out there from those who don't feel quite so drawn in as me, however, my greatest fear is that she will not move on through the Tudor line to Elizabeth. You see Hillary I wont know her in my heart and mind unless you introduce us personally so we can spend time together and she stays with me as Henry and Cromwell have. I do insist it is you because others have tried and well failed to produce a good history lesson or novel to grip me. l trust you will do both mind blowingly and brilliantly. Anybody interested in a read that you can't put down this is for you. If you love both literature and history together at its most incisive, most entertaining and enlightening, clever and imaginative this is definitely for you.
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VINE VOICEon 19 December 2012
It's 1535 and Cromwell is Henry VIII's Chief Minister and Master Secretary. Thanks to the new Queen Anne and the Boleyn family, he has property, riches and power, but the King's inner circle will never let him forget his humble beginnings and are constantly circling him, waiting for a mistake that they can use to bring about his downfall. That downfall may be closer than Cromwell likes because Anne has yet to bear Henry the male heir he craves and faced with her jealousy, her demands and her acquisitiveness, his eye is beginning to wander towards the more sedate Jane Seymour.

Conscious of what happened to his mentor Wolsey, Cromwell know that if he's to satisfy the king's desire while preserving his own position then he must turn on the Boleyns. But Cromwell's navigating a dangerous path and the Boleyns will not go quietly ...

Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize winning sequel to the Booker Prize winning WOLF HALL is an equally thrilling, intelligent and utterly gripping account of Anne Boleyn's downfall and the impact on Cromwell. Mantel succeeds in taking a familiar story and making it feel both fresh and suspenseful again.

As with WOLF HALL, Mantel peels away the different layers of Cromwell's character, revealing a man who has his vulnerabilities but is also capable of being utterly ruthless to both friends and enemies. A scene where he interrogates the hapless musician Smeaton is a masterclass in intimidation and cruelty as he takes the man apart and reduces him to nothing. I was also fascinated by Mantel's portrayal of Anne Boleyn who is a complicated character in her own right - capricious and vicious she's an intelligent woman who isn't as secure in her own position as she would like and feels constantly compelled to manipulate the men around her. Cromwell's observations of her are astute and the way they dance around each other is nail bitingly tense and I actually felt sorry for her as she goes towards her doom.

There's a wonderful sense of period running throughout the piece and I liked the way Mantel weaves Cromwell's personal history into his reactions and plans. I also enjoyed the fact that the narrative is written in a less stylised and thus earlier to follow style than in WOLF HALL.

All in all, it's a stunning read and I'm very much looking forward to the final book in the trilogy.
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on 23 February 2014
Hilary Mantel must surely be out in front of English writers today. Her prose is wonderful, evocative of time and place, humerous and quite daring. It traces the change in Thomas Cromwell who, for me this time has become more callous as his gentleness begins to fade and his cold determination to give Henry what he wants rises. He is becoming more cynical. The loss of his wife and children has receded and he seems a harder man. I read 'Bring Up the Bodies' very soon after reading 'Wolf Hall' and possibly should have left a longer gap as I began to feel I had never read anything else and almost looked forward to finishing the book and I feel sorry about that as it deserves better than a jaded reader. I am not a fast reader and frequently look back and forth in books to check on facts, names etc., so for me, a really long book is quite a commitment. I can fault my reading of 'Bring Up the Bodies' but I cannot fault the book.
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on 31 December 2014
Many years ago I read "Fludd" which I found relentlessly dreary, and it quite put me off Hilary Mantel for years. After her novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, however, I'm going to revisit her other books as these are amongst the best books I've read of the past two or three years - and I read an enormous quantity of books. She deals her history straight and well researched and builds believable character around a complex and interesting man living in very dangerous times. A must-read for anyone interested in tudor history - brings the period and the man alive.
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