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Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

Written by Hilary Mantel

Narrated by Simon Vance


Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

Written by Hilary Mantel

Narrated by Simon Vance

ratings:
4.5/5 (94 ratings)
Length:
14 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 8, 2012
ISBN:
9781427225832
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

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Also available as bookBook

Description

The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn.

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle.

Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?

A Macmillan Audio production.

Publisher:
Released:
May 8, 2012
ISBN:
9781427225832
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Hilary Mantel is the author of fourteen books, including A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, BEYOND BLACK, the memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST, and the short-story collection THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER. Her two most recent novels, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES, have both been awarded the Man Booker Prize – an unprecedented achievement.

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What people think about Bring Up the Bodies

4.4
94 ratings / 93 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    More of the same, but oh how I missed Thomas Cromwell. I’m sure this and Wolf Hall will be published as one volume someday. The ending was great and now I understand why the first had the title it did.

    I was sorely disappointed that Simon Slater did not read this one though.
  • (4/5)
    I took longer to get into this sequel than I did into Wolf Hall. The quirks of the author's writing style, which I accepted in the earlier novel, became a bit more irritating here and frequently she violated her own rule that "he=Cromwell" unless otherwise specified by saying "he, Cromwell, said" or similar. More fundamentally, this period of Cromwell's life is of course much better documented than his earlier years so I was more familiar with the material and it became a case of over-familiarity, albeit written in a different style, undermining my attention. As one would expect, though, the novel picked up in the last part when Anne and her alleged co-adulterers were accused, tried and executed. This was grippingly and excellently handled and the characters' own contemporary thought processes added new dimensions, freed from the hindsight judgements and assumptions that colour modern recountings of these events.
  • (3/5)
    Mantel continues the story of Thomas Cromwell in this sequel to "Wolf Hall". The historical detail is there and her interpretations of people and events all plausible but, perhaps because of the absence of figures like Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More, or perhaps because the rise and fall of Ann Boleyn lacks the drama of the earlier novel's account of the early English Reformation, I found this second novel much less engaging although still quite a good read. Maybe it's just that this is the second novel of a projected trilogy.
  • (5/5)
    This is the second of a planned trilogy centered on Thomas Cromwell, a minster of England’s Henry VIII. If you’ve didn’t read the first book, Wolf Hall, you really should first for this isn’t a standalone and just knowing the history isn’t enough. This isn’t some generic retelling of the story of King Henry’s six wives from a different point of view. Mantel inhabits Cromwell closely, and his experiences and how he experienced them figure greatly in both books. If you did read Wolf Hall, you wouldn’t have missed that Mantel’s style is unconventional. I went into detail how in my rant on the subject in my review of that book. That style doesn’t change here, except Mantel throws in the awkward "he, Cromwell" more often to situate the reader. I never took to Mantel’s prose style; it was something to be endured because I relished her vivid and insightful way of depicting Tudor times and the figures in it. I picked up Bring Up the Bodies right after finishing the first book, and I think that helped. I had grown accustomed to the style, and it really didn’t bother me--much. Maybe by the third book I’ll fully embrace it? Naw. I still think her ways with pronouns and proper nouns, the quotation mark and paragraphing sacrifices clarity for no payoff I can see, but I can better notice the beauties in her words despite that now. Take, for instance, this passage describing Queen Anne Boleyn and her ladies-in-waiting:She orders her women out: a vehement gesture, a child scaring crows. Unhurried, like bold corvines of some new and silky kind, the ladies gather their trains, flap languidly away; their voices like voices from the air, trail behind them: their gossip broken off, their knowing cackles of laughter. Lady Rochford is the last to take wing, trailing her feathers, reluctant to yield the ground.It’s not just that descriptions like this vividly bring Anne and Lady Rochford to life, or that it’s great foreshadowing, but that how he described things often told us just as much about Cromwell. In fact, I’m forced to admit Mantel’s way with this is no less than amazing. Five-star-worthy, really, even if I’m awarding it less because it didn’t quite have a five-star impact on me. And really, I knew the outlines certainly of the fall of Anne, but that didn’t mean this novel didn’t have its surprises, especially in the ins and outs of Cromwell’s thinking and motives. Mantel has this great quality of making you feel how contingent history is, how things could have happened differently. Mantel herself said that after all, though we know how things turned out (if we know our English history), Cromwell didn’t know at the time he was living through it. Cromwell here is far less sympathetic than in the first book. I felt from the book’s first pages that power had quickly, if not corrupted, then at least hardened him. You know, a trap writers often fall into, fiction and non-fiction alike, is that they fall in love with their subjects and become apologists for them. Not the case here. Mantel gave Cromwell a human dimension and he’s not a stock villain, but she certainly allowed him to act and think in ways that are despicable. And this is an even tauter book than the first. So many writers, especially after having a critical and commercial success such as Wolf Hall, become bloated; they no longer have the discipline to cut and their editors no longer have the power to force it upon them. Yet while Wolf Hall was over 600 pages, Bring Up the Bodies is 407 pages. Middle books in trilogies often sag--this one, I think, is even better than the first book, more gripping with the momentum accelerating with passing chapters. If the time between the first two books are an indication, it'll be about two years until the last book in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light comes out. I can hardly wait.
  • (5/5)
    well...that was, indeed, a lot of bodies and a bloody awesome heap of a mess, wasn't it?
  • (5/5)
    Loved this. While I admired Wolf Hall, I found it a bit of a slog to get through for reasons I could never quite put my finger on. This was very different and for me an easier read. It was more tightly focused on the fall of Anne Boleyn. It's an amazing skill to write so well that the lack of tension from knowing the story so well is irrelevant.
  • (5/5)
    Wolf Hall was majestic and sweeping and slow; Bring Up the Bodies is furiously paced. But both are extraordinary for the way they humanize these characters, when most history books and novels about the same time period never fail to make the same people feel either hopelessly melodramatic, or incomprehensible. Wonderful!
  • (4/5)
    Pretty solid and engrossing book. Cromwell is a bit of a know it all and he will get his in the next book. I have not read Wolf Hall, the first volume in the series, but it is not necessary. Excellent detail on how people lived during the 16th century.
  • (5/5)
    I had to read this when there were no distractions, but it was worth it. lots of characters and old fashioned language to wade through, but this went much more smoothly for me than Wolf Hall...maybe because not every character is named Thomas?
  • (3/5)
    Bringing Up the Bodies is the second in Hilary Mantel's projected trilogy of historical novels set in early 16th century England. While following attentively the rise of Thomas Cromwell in tricky circumstances-- perhaps because the novelty had somewhat worn off--this volume did not seem up to snuff with the first. The narrative circles around trying to establish the reasons why Henry, after his hot pursuit of her, has Anne Boleyn's head cut off. Who knows why exactly? Time to bring in Freud perhaps? But while the psychology might not be clear, the politics leading up to the decision are well detailed and seem to me entirely plausible.
  • (5/5)
    A fabulous read, with an almost hypnotic quality, in both the style of writing and the descriptions, that draws the reader into the Tudor period and offers a fascinating portrayal of Thomas Cromwell as a man of intelligence and wit in a way that induces sympathy from the reader even as he plots the downfall of others in his attempt to serve the king by any means necessary.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book and bought it for a friend. The documentation is astounding and the writing is a joy to read. I found myself rereading certain sentences in awe and admiration of the craftmanship. Preferred this second of the series to the first, 'Wolf Hall', though it was outstanding as well. Looking forward to the third of the series.
  • (5/5)
    Wow! Every bit as good as Wolf Hall.Faced with the possibility that someone might read this without reading the first book, Mantel does a spectacular job of filling in the past without boring the old reader. Her technique is to write a new episode around an event previously described, giving the old reader a different, and sometimes deeper, insight to Cromwell's character and yet filling it in for the new reader. It works wonderfully well. These episodes are expertly spread (as opposed to filling the first 50 pages) so one can never say "Oh I already knew that."Even though, if you've read your history, you know what's coming, the plot twists, characterisations, humour, irony and cultural insights just keep on coming.Another true masterpiece. Hopefully book 3 isn't too many years away.
  • (5/5)
    I love these books and I love her storytelling ability. She has taken a major but little written about player during the Tudor reign, Thomas Cromwell, and turned him into a three dimensional character. Mantel's Cromwell is clever, witty and for now three steps ahead of anyone else. This book covers the end days of Anne Boleyn's queenship and nicely describes the high feeling and drama of the time. This is by far the best book of Tudor England that I have ever read and I have read many. I do wonder, though, if the books would be more difficult for those with no prior knowledge of that time period.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed Wolf Hall, the first of Hilary Mantel's trilogy about Oliver Cromwell, but this one is even better. I can't possibly say anything in a review that hasn't been said by the hundreds of reviews posted. Continuing the technique she employed in Wolf Hall, Mantel has the story told from the point of view of Cromwell, as he threads his way through the intrigues of Henry VIII's court, the maneuverings of rival families to maintain control through the women closest to Henry, and the ultimate downfall of Anne Boleyn.The historical detail and the dialogue ring so true to the period. Mantel shows us Cromwell as he manipulates people and opportunities to advance Henry and himself. She does not spare the sensitivities of her readers, giving us an unvarnished glimpse of the brutal, bloody, and traitorous mores of the Tudor Court. It is historical fiction at its best.
  • (5/5)
    Hilary Mantel and Thomas Cromwell dig in deeper. . . . Wolf Hall ends with Cromwell visiting the Seymour estate of that name, and Bring up the Bodies ends with bringing up the bodies, or shortly after that. The best thing about this portrait of a historical figure (besides not being able to figure out the ending to well-known historical facts) is that Cromwell changes and yet does not change--in both books he does what is right and reasonable and necessary from his perspective. The difference is that in the second novel, one starts to wonder whether his perspective has started to turn in on itself.
  • (4/5)
    In this exceptional sequel to "Wolf Hall", Mantel continues to follow Thomas Cromwell as he negotiates the political, economic, and social labyrinth that is the court of Henry VIII. "Wolf Hall" is a wholly engaging work, and in "Bring Up the Bodies", Mantel doesn't lose a step. To see the court through the eyes and mind of Thomas Cromwell is quite a fascinating peek into this historical period. Cromwell is there, warts and all. At times, you like him; at times you hate him; most of the time, you just appreciate the comprimises needed to survive in this world.I have nothing negative to say about this work. I was pleased to find the sequel up to the original. Unless you just didn't care for "Wolf Hall", you must read this work. Os.
  • (5/5)
    This is tremendous historical fiction although of course the main events are well supported by the state records.I especially liked the passages where Cromwell sits alone and thinks about himself, his past, his present and what the future might hold for him. In this way he is so humanised and this Tudor self-made man starts to garner our sympathy despite the reputation some history books give him. This is great writing wearing Mantel's research so skilfully.
  • (4/5)
    Hmmm. I really enjoyed this book it is good historical fiction and I look forward to reading more of Hilary Mantel's books. I only gave this book a 4 out 5, because at times I found it slightly confusing. I have to say that I did not read Wolf Hall first. I wonder if that would have made a difference. Hilary has a really flowing writing style and I did go on to read another of her books. I will look forward to hearing about new books from her in the future.
  • (5/5)
    Marvellous sequel to 'Wolf Hall', perhaps even more enjoyable.Superb historical fiction from a wordsmith.Suitable for older teens, though some sexual innuendo.
  • (5/5)
    And from Page 1 you are straight back into the Tudor world Mantel has expertly created. I had heard that the style of Bring Up The Bodies was different to Wolf Hall; brisker and more direct. But for me the voice is exactly as per Wolf Hall - and that's all too the good. There is no benefit in discussing the plot - anyone with any knowledge of history is familiar with it. What is interesting is the complex character of Thomas Cromwell as he manipulates the affairs of state, careful to pick winners, not afraid to shed the blood of innocents to further what he sees as the interest of the realm, but until that moment generous, self effacing, and compassionate as well. In Bring Up The Bodies we do see a couple of new aspects of Cromwell's character - the ability to take his revenge very very cold and at a distance of many years, and for the first time some fear at what the future may bring. The final volume of the trilogy should be rivetting
  • (5/5)
    I read this in August but am only now getting around to writing up the review. The year is 1535. Thomas Cromwell has put aside his lowly origins as the son of a blacksmith and is now chief minister and leading statesman within the court of Henry VIII. He’s fast approaching the height of his career, having found a way for Henry to extricate himself from his childless marriage and uncovered a rich source of new income for the King through sequestration of monastic lands and buildings.Most books featuring Cromwell concentrate on his work and achievements as lawyer and statesman. What makes [Hilary Mantel’s] novels about this period different is the way she reveals the man behind the titles and the legislative actions. The Cromwell she shows us, first in [Wolf Hall] and again in her sequel, [Bring up the Bodies], is a complex character. He’s an astute business man with a thriving cloth trade with Flanders derived from relationships built during his years in that country. He’s a politician par excellence, nimbly navigating the myriad jealousies and jostlings for position amongst the gentry and aristocracy that surround the King. But in Mantel’s text he is also a loving and devoted father with a touch of humanity that extends to opening his home to the poor and needy who require food. The man who manipulates young, impressionable men into confessing they committed adultery with Henry’s new queen (Anne Boleyn) is the same man who is moved to tears when he finds the angel wings his dead daughter once wore at Christmas time.It’s that duality of character that Mantel brings to center stage in [Bring up the Bodies], conveying it in a third person narrative style that simultaneously has the intimacy of a first person narrator. Often those moments of character revelation come through short comments made almost en passant.One such passage occurs when Cromwell is despatched by Henry to see the woman he divorced (Katherine of Arragon) in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Katherine is a problem that will not go away for this royal couple – she refuses to acknowledge the validity of the divorce, refuses to give allegiance to the new queen and is a focal point for Catholic plots against Henry. they need to know whether reports she is dying are true. What Cromwell sees is a shrunken figure of a woman swaddled in an ermine fur cape.She is jaundiced, and there is an invalid fug in the room – the faint animal scent of the furs, a vegetal stench of undrained cooking water, and the sour reek from a bowl with which a girl hurries away: containing, he suspects the evauated contents of the dowager’s stomach.Noticing the ermine fur coat in which she is swathed, the pragmatic side of Cromwell’s character comes to the forefront. “The king will want that back, he thinks, if she dies.’ But almost immediately the lens is changed to show his more thoughtful nature as he wonders whether Katherine’s dreams are of the gardens of the Alhambra she left as a young girl:….the marble pavements, the bubbling of crystal water into basins, the drag of a white peacock’s tail and the scent of lemons. I could have brought her a lemon in my saddlebag, he thinks.Four months after I closed the book, I could still remember that passage and the way Mantel shows Cromwell’s mind leap from the wizened creature he sees in front of him to a simple action he could have taken to remind her of a better life.Moments like this abound within the novel. For that reason alone, Mantel for me deserved to win the Man Booker Prize 2012.
  • (3/5)
    This sequel to the writer"s previous Booker Prize winner "Wolf Hall" continues the story of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII's wives. It is a very interesting historical novel and so well researched giving a wonderful insight into those times. This books main character is mainly about Thomas Cromwell and all his devious ways and as I didn't like him at all, the book didn't please me as much as the first book which seemed to have more interesting characters.However, it was a very good sequel and a worthy winner of the 2012 Booker.
  • (4/5)
    A worthy Booker winner. I am definitely looking for Wolf Hall after this. A brilliant portrait, warts and all, of Henry VIII's fixer Thomas Cromwell. He comes across as indefatigable, tireless, experienced, and pragmatic. Although the broad ending is never in doubt the details and curiosity as to how Cromwell will fix it keep you reading. And the ending is a fitting one.
  • (4/5)
    Thomas Cromwell has been given the job of finding Henry VIII a way out of his marriage to Anne Boleyn who has failed to produce a male heir. There are rumors floating around about Anne's marital unfaithfulness to Henry, so Thomas must simply find a way to implicate a few men. While there is nothing wrong with the plotting or writing, this book failed to engage me as Wolf Hall did. Several of the chapters are entirely too long -- one is 159 pages long; another is 85 pages long. The two books thus far in this trilogy have given me insights into the period of Henry VIII.
  • (5/5)
    Mantel writes beautiful prose and has a deeply held perspective on history. After a zillion books about Anne Boleyn and her fair, but lost head, Mantel's telling of this story is rich and compelling. Seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, the Tudor court is both glittering and rotting. As Henry's top advisor it is up to Cromwell to re-write the past, to punish transgressors to Henry's vision, and to remove any obstacle to Henry's desire for a son.Henry is an after-thought here. He's the Wizard of Ozian character, back behind the curtain, pulling the levers and setting the task. The stars here are Anne and Cromwell as they pursue a fever-pitched battle for survival. If you know only the bare bones of this history, you know who won (and no, it was neither Anne nor Cromwell).Mantel's writing is impeccable, her plot and timing spot-on, her imagery vivid. This is not your average historical fiction, but rather a deep dive into the history of the Tudor court in all its tarnished beauty. A must read.
  • (5/5)
    I really really enjoyed this book. Written with a gentle cynicism and humour throughout. Hilary Mantel really fleshed out Cromwell for me, made him more human, as I was used to having him be the big baddie of history. Whether he was or not I don't know, but this book certainly made him look like a normal man just trying to get by without the whims of Henry VIII, chopping off his head!! Brilliant book that I would love to read again.
  • (4/5)
    The undoing of Anne Boleyn unfolds with swift inevitability. Hilary Mantel brings Thomas Cromwell to life as one of the most interesting characters in historical fiction. He is a player and manipulator at the top of his game. Is he settling personal scores? Extracting revenge from those who brought down and humiliated his patron Cardinal Woolsey? Acting as the fixer and loyal servant of his king? ...Yes.
  • (4/5)
    This is the second novel in the author's projected trilogy centered on Thomas Cromwell, and covers the time from Sept 1535 to the summer of 1836, during which time Cromwell engineered, at Henry VIII's urging the downfall and execution of Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Since I have never approved of Henry nor of Cromwell, I appreciated the book's portayal them both as reprehensible characters. The book won the Booker Prize (as did the first volume in the trilogy, Wolf Hall,) and is told in the present tense, with Cromwell ordinarily being the "he" in the narrative. I liked the book better than I liked Wolf Hall, maybe because I was more used to the narative style the auhor uses. I hope I am still around to read the final volume of the trilogy, since I will enjoy Cromwell falling to the fate he so skillfully inflicts on others who stand in his way.
  • (4/5)
    I'd already read Wolf Hall, so I remembered the rather unique writing style, but it still took a little while to get used to it again. But once I did, I found the writing flowed easily.In some ways, the writing style seems a bit easier than Wolf Hall because the author uses "he, Cromwell" to avoid ambiguity in some places.Whereas Wolf Hall covers a long time - from Cromwell's childhood until Thomas More's execution, Bring Up the Bodies only covers about nine months, and is all about Anne Boleyn's fall from grace and execution.The main issue I had with this book is that the most interesting bits are just pure conjecture. Still a good read though.