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Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #2)

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  33,103 ratings  ·  5,110 reviews
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
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Henry Holt & Company, Inc. (first published 2012)
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Beautiful Ruins by Jess WalterThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine BooThis Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012
3rd out of 100 books — 468 voters
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa GregoryThe Constant Princess by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
Best Books About Tudor England
19th out of 429 books — 1,179 voters

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Community Reviews

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The normally flinty James Wood recently wrote what can only be characterized as an extended mash note to Hilary Mantel in the New Yorker, based on this book and its predecessor, Wolf Hall. I can only concur, and add a few observations of my own.

How good is this book? It's so good that
(i) I am trying to ration myself to only 50 pages a day, to spin out the experience of reading it just that little bit longer
(ii) I am failing miserably in objective (i) above, because I am an undisciplined wretch,
Most people in the English speaking world know the history of Henry VIII from their earliest school days or from the many books, films and TV series that the episode has inspired. Some of us cringe when we hear of yet another fictional version, yet another glittery effort to sensationalise the intrigue of the Tudor court and create even more farfetched scenarios around the details of the wooing and discarding of Henry’s wives. How then can Hilary Mantel’s series be of any interest? I would argue ...more
I came to this sequel thinking it could not possibly stand up to the first installment. So, I was prepared to like this book, but not love it as much as I did Wolf Hall. But I was wrong: it does, and I did.

It's one of those works that I lingered over the last pages of, not wanting it to end: the prose is that good. And it installed itself into my psyche. After putting it down at night and as I fell asleep, words, phrases, sentences rolled through my head. (This has happened to me before, but th
Aaaahhh. Fine, fine, fine. The final last paragraph -- perfect.
Cromwell now to me will always be "he, Cromwell". This little stylistic flourish did add clarity, compared with Wolf Hall. To purposefully use just "he" in the first book was at times confusing, forcing one to stop and step out of the story to regain one's bearings. Sort of like breaking the fourth wall -- and perhaps that was the point then, a metafictional technique? but it was too intrusive.
This book just sailed on from Wolf Hall
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 01, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: Booker 2012 winner
I rarely give 5 stars but I can't help it with this 2012 Booker winner. I am still to read the last year's other Booker finalists but this book is one of the best among my recent reads. Hence, I think the Booker jurors made the right pick last year. Also, those friends of mine who already read this book and gave a 4 or 5 stars also made the right verdict: this book is exceptionally great!

Prior to this book's prequel, Wolf Hall (4 stars), I knew nothing about Henry VIII. I am a Filipino who had m
I jumped straight into Bring Up the Bodies after finishing Wolf Hall, such was my eagerness to dive back into Hilary Mantel’s Tudor England and, of course, sit on the shoulder of the inscrutable, enigmatic Thomas Cromwell as he led us through it. I’m afraid this review is much shorter than my review of Wolf Hall, because many of the points still apply from one to the other.

Mantel still prefers to overuse her third person pronouns rather than use her main character’s name, which in the previous b
I feel stingy giving this only 3 stars, because it is a really excellent book in its own right. But it fell short of the wondrous originality and complexity of Wolf Hall... I missed the mythic-mystic dimension and the sense of a society on the cusp between "medieval" and "Renaissance". Thomas Cromwell doesn't have the same rich character arc that he had in Wolf Hall: he's on top and he stays on top. And King Henry doesn't struggle against the same array of opponents in this book, he just decides ...more
Brilliant, again. With sentences like this, as a candle is lit: The light shivers, then settles against dark wood like discs pared from a pearl. Everybody knows this story, of Catherine of Aragon, Henry the VIII, and Anne Boleyn, but that story has never been told like this before. And I don't just mean the obvious - that it's told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, who has come down in history as Henry's hatchet-man, but who here, in these pages, has wit and humanity as well as the shrewd ...more
Gregory Baird
"Those who are made can be unmade."

Let's begin with an admission: I have an extremely love-hate relationship with Wolf Hall, the Booker Prize-winning predecessor to this novel. I don't think anyone can deny that Hilary Mantel is a tremendously talented writer, but there were long segments of Hall that were deadly dull if I'm being honest. It's a sprawling novel that takes work to get through. Finishing a book that makes you work can feel thrilling, but not when the effort is born out of frustrat
What sorcery is this?

Cromwell plays good cop, bad cop. Surprisingly, he's the good cop.

The King wants rid of Anne, so Cromwell finds men who are guilty, just not necessarily guilty as charged.

That's about it really.

Some professional reviewers have called this 'tauter' than part one, which must be review speak, like saying a house is "conveniently placed for access to the city centre", which means smack on the main thoroughfare with juggernauts hurtling past your windows. Taut = no subplots. St
4.5 stars
It’s a while since I read Wolf Hall, but Mantel does a good job of filling in gaps in my memory. This holds the attention as much as the first one does, but is narrower in focus, covering less than a year. Cromwell is as ruthless and manipulative as ever; but it is fascinating seeing things from his point of view. Being a bit of an old Tudor hack from my undergraduate days these books are a fascinating take on an era I know fairly well. For centuries Cromwell had been dismissed as just
B the BookAddict
Oct 05, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Most Highly Recommended
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Jeffrey Keeten

In her Author’s Note, Hilary Mantel says: “This book is of course not about Anne Boleyn or about Henry VIII but about the career of Thomas Cromwell, who is still in need of attention from biographers. Meanwhile, Mr Secretary (Cromwell) remains sleek, plump and densely inaccessible, like a choice plum in a Christmas pie…”

For me, Cromwell remains admirable, he had such exemplary hopes for England: one country, one coinage, one set of laws, one church albeit at Henry's bidding, good roads, good cr
Where I got the book: my local library.

Now this is where the ratings system gets all screwy. Compared to the run of histfic, Bring Up The Bodies is a 5-star read in terms of quality (I never nitpick about historical accuracy). But compared to my 5-star experience of Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies didn't quite come up to scratch and, although my opinion hovers somewhere around the 4.5 range, being constrained to whole numbers I'm giving it 4 stars to make the distinction.

Get it? Oh, never mind. O
Aug 21, 2013 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all readers of historical fiction, especially of this era
Wonderful creation by Hilary Mantel and deserving of all the praise it has received. This is a novel more of action than description, though the action is often in dialogue, both external and internal.

Cromwell is in charge, as much as anyone who is not the King or a member of the nobility can be. The inner workings at the various royal courts and Cromwell's now multiple homes are intense and exciting. As the royal times seem about to change, He (Cromwell--better identified in this book) looks t
I’ve seldom seen anything similar to the approving furor over Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL, and if you had told me that a novel about Thomas Cromwell – most famously seen as a sleazy weasel attacking the saintly Thomas More in the movie A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS – could be fascinating and sexy, I would not have believed you. Mantel’s writing, however, was utterly perfect as she twisted expectations by showing More as the intolerant, egocentric, venomous 16th-century anti-hero and Cromwell as a man who, ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Hilary Mantel’s Booker-winning Wolf Hall, though fascinating, was a chore to get through – so it was with some misgivings that I picked up this book, the sequel; I was resigned to getting bored, but too entranced with Tudor England and Henry VIII’s court to leave the story. However, I was pleasantly surprised… no, that’s too mild a term, I was floored! Bring up the Bodies is one humdinger of a read. While Wolf Hall was ponderous, the sequel is breezy, without losing any of the beauty of the lang ...more
Methinks this would have done better in my opinion had I gone back to the beginning soon before plunging into this continuation. Then again, perhaps not. Midway points are inherently weak, especially in an expected trilogy where the first has the beginning flush and the third has the ending triumph, so a rereading of Wolf Hall may have led to a compare and contrast with this latter day sequel coming out last. Also, there are so many other unread tomes calling my name. Also, I'm lazy. There you h ...more
I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped to. The writing is often brilliant, with the dialogue lively and apt in revealing the characters, but I came away with a hollow feeling with respect to emotional engagement. Only part of that has to do with the lack of focus on likable characters in the unlikeable times.

The time is 1535, and the events concern the role of Thomas Cromwell in the downfall of Anne Boleyn in favor of Jane Seymour as Henry Tudor’s queen. As with the previous removal of Kather
Mantel's second novel of Thomas Cromwell is darker than "Wolf Hall" but no less powerful. Her first novel was full of falling stars--- Cromwell's patron Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More ---and "Bring Up The Bodies" tracks the fall of Anne Boleyn and her family. Mantel's Henry VIII seems almost a distant figure here, with Cromwell and Anne Boleyn as the key figures. Henry wants...a son and heir, yes, but mostly he wants to believe that he is the beleaguered hero of his own tale, to believe that h ...more
Here is the genius of Hilary Mantel: she can take a story about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, a subject that I have been reading about since I was twelve, and make it new and fascinating to me. She does this mainly by focusing her story through the eyes of, not Anne or Mary Boleyn (as so many authors choose to do) but through the eyes of a relatively unknown and certainly mysterious person: Thomas Cromwell, Master Secretary and grand puppetmaster of all Tudor drama. Cromwell is, to this day, ...more

This is the sequel to Wolf Hall, which I read shortly after it won the Man Booker Prize. The fact that I thought I would be reading a book featuring Cavaliers and Roundheads indicates that (a) I hadn’t been paying much attention to book reviews and (b) I don’t really know much about the Tudors. Luckily it only took a paragraph for me to realise the novel was about Henry VIII’s Cromwell and not the other one, or else I would have been a very confused reader. In terms of the history, I had to rely
Jennifer (aka EM)
Too many of my friends here on GR and elsewhere have not yet read this, but are planning to, so I won't do much of a review - at least not yet.

But I have to say, the writing in this is even better than in Wolf Hall. Mantel's metaphors and similes are beyond apt, cutting and character-revealing and entirely original; when she is lyrical, her prose positively takes flight although she has a steady, controlled hand on it; her dialogue is electric. Her plotting, her pace, her tone -- every single a
Hilary Mantel hits it out of the park again with Bring Up the Bodies, the second in her Wolf Hall Trilogy. I loved Wolf Hall (having spent most of my teens obsessed with Anne Boleyn and the Tudors in general. Bring Up the Bodies begins after Henry has married Anne and follows their story through the eyes of Cromwell, Henry's right hand man, a self-made money man who came up from an abusive home as a commoner and has risen to great power, first under the influence of the now-destroyed Cardinal Wo ...more
Mar 31, 2013 Suzanne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who think they don't like historical novels
I read the last of this so slowly, slowly. Did not want it to end. I liked Wolf Hall, but I felt that that book was just practice for this one. Hilary Mantel was just getting warmed up.

Bring Up the Bodies is not a history, or even a re-telling of history, but a reimagining, by a writer with a remarkable imagination. Her ability to offer us one possible version of a well-known story, told through the mind and thoughts of Thomas Cromwell in a way we’ve never considered him, has created something
Even better than Wolf Hall. Mantel continues to use the pronoun "he" to get the reader into Cromwell's head. Either I'm used to it or she does it more naturally than in Wolf Hall.

This is the essence of good historical fiction. It does not seek-- as does so much historical fiction--to tell an essentially contemporary story placed in a carefully crafted past where the details of clothing , social customs and historical context are correct, but takes pivotal characters and their dilemmas from the
Admittedly, I have not read Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”. However, with my extensive knowledge of all things Tudor, I looked forward to Mantel’s “Bring up the Bodies” (so much so, that I am the one who requested the library to order it into their offerings). Although I am not a Cromwell supporter, I was open to his point of view…

My immediate initial reaction to “Bring up the Bodies” was one of worry. The writing style seemed “messy” and to be a compilation of first-person, third-person, and narra
A Deadly Game of Chess

Forget the “Game of Thrones” series and its ilk, Mantel’s “Bring up the Bodies” is the real thing. Even though most of us know the story of Henry VIII’s court there are plenty of twists and turns and ponderings to still hold intrigue. Mantel envisions her tale through Thomas Cromwell’s eyes. He was, of course, a real person and she makes him complex enough, and simple enough, to be thoroughly believable. He was a man of pride and learning, he also loved his family and mourn
It’s year 1535.England.Henry VIII is a king.He has attained his goal ,divorced from Catherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn,at the same time separating England from Rome.He’s a strong man in his mid forties.But ….
There are always some buts.Henry is only human.He’s tired,getting old , getting fat.But the worst of it ,he’s disappointed.Anne ,for which he made so many sacrifices for ,has failed. She hasn’t given him a son.Henry still hasn’t a son and England haven’t a heir to the throne. Spain
Jan 31, 2013 Elaine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I've been a Tudor history aficionado since doing a 4th grade bookreport on Elizabeth I, and a Mantel fan since reading A Place of Greater Safety nearly 20 years ago and marveling at her ability to make even unloveable historical characters vibrate with life and complexity. But you don't have to love the Tudors or Mantel (though it helps) to appreciate the virtuoso sweep of Bringing Up the Bodies. If anything, this book is even better than Wolf Hall, because it is somehow tighter and more economi ...more
I admit to having a bit of a crush on Thomas Cromwell. All right, he's a bit long in the tooth for me, a perhaps a bit round from the life at court that fills his plate and goblet with rich food and drink. And more than a bit too cruel, as he neatly dispatches obstacles to the nearest hangman's noose or executioner's blade.

But there is so much to admire in the man who sits at the right hand of Henry VIII. Thomas Cromwell, a commoner who escaped his father's fists at the age of fifteen, claims h
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Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of many novels including Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Bring Up the Bodies, Book Two of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, was also awarded the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An ...more
More about Hilary Mantel...

Other Books in the Series

Thomas Cromwell Trilogy (3 books)
  • Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)
  • The Mirror and the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3)
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) A Place of Greater Safety Beyond Black Wolf Hall / Bring Up the Bodies The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

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“The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.” 72 likes
“The word 'however' is like an imp coiled beneath your chair. It induces ink to form words you have not yet seen, and lines to march across the page and overshoot the margin. There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one.” 46 likes
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