In response to an article in The Economist that said how Hilary Mantel was like the first writer who wrote a a novel about the Tudors that was not a b...moreIn response to an article in The Economist that said how Hilary Mantel was like the first writer who wrote a a novel about the Tudors that was not a bodice ripper, Margaret George was like, "uh, what? Hello? I write historical fiction that are not bodice rippers. Have done so for more than 2 decades. um, not that there's anything wrong with bodice rippers."
Anyway. It was interesting to read a novel about Elizabeth I on the later years of her life, starting from the first Armada and focusing greatly on her relationship with Robert Devereaux, the earl of Essex, rather than a young Elizabeth and her dramatic struggles (with Mary Tudor, Thomas Seymour, Mary Stuart, Robert Dudley, etc etc). After all, England's golden period of art and culture occurred in the later years of Elizabet's reign and it was fun to see Shakespeare and John Donne take part in the story. I did like the alternating narrative between Elizabeth and Lettice Knollys which gave you differing perspectives on the same situations. I can't really say this was my favorite book by Margaret George (one of my favorite historical fiction writers, actually) - that slot belongs to Mary Queen of Scotland The Isles, nor was it my least favorite (Mary Called Magdalene), but it was a good, long, meaty (mmmmeaty) read that I enjoyed heartily. (less)
This is my least favorite of Alison Weir's novels. I couldn't get emotionally engaged with either Kate Plantagenet or Katherine Grey. The book felt wa...moreThis is my least favorite of Alison Weir's novels. I couldn't get emotionally engaged with either Kate Plantagenet or Katherine Grey. The book felt way too long. But I'd be lying to say I didn't enjoy it on some level, hence 3 stars. I can feebly offer that it sure sucked to be of female nobility back in the 15th and 16th centuries, needing to get permission from the monarch to marry and all of that. (less)
p. 280-281: "He does not sleep. His thoughts race. He thinks, I never lay awake a night for love, though poets tells me that is the procedure. Now I l...morep. 280-281: "He does not sleep. His thoughts race. He thinks, I never lay awake a night for love, though poets tells me that is the procedure. Now I lie awake for its opposite. But then, he does not hate Anne, he is indifferent to her. He does not even hate Francis Weston, any more than you hate a biting midge; you just wonder why it was created. He pities Mark, but then, he thinks, we take him for a boy: when I was as old as Mark is now, I had crossed the sea and the frontiers of Europe. I had lain screaming in a ditch and hauled myself out of it, and got myself on the road: not once, but twice, once in flight from my father and once from the Spanish on the battlefield. When I was as old as Mark is now, or Francis Weston, I had distinguished myself in the houses of the Portinari, the Frescobaldi, and long before I was the age of George Boleyn I had dealt for them in the exchanges of Europe; I had broken down doors in Antwerp; I had come home to England, a changed man. I had made over my language and to my exultation, and unexpectedly, I spoke my native tongue with more fluency than when I went away; I commended me to the cardinal, and at the same time, I was marrying a wife, I was proving myself in the law courts, I would go into court and smile at the judges and talk, my expertise laggard to my presentation, and the judges were so happy that I smiled at them and didn't smack them round the head, that they saw the case my way, often as not. 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.
He thinks of lawsuits he has never thought of in years. Whether the judgement was good. Whether he would have given it against himself."
p. 287-288: “The king - it would be three or four years back and to justify his first divorce - put out a book called A Glass of the Truth. Parts of it, they say, he wrote himself.
Now Anne Boleyn calls for her glass. She sees herself: her jaundiced skin, lean throat, collarbones like twin blades.
1 May 1536: this, surely, is the last day of knighthood. What happens after this - and such pageants will continue - will be no more than a dead parade with banner, a contest of corpses. The king will leave the field. The day will end, broken off, snapped like a shinbone, spat out like smashed teeth. George Boleyn, brother to the queen, will enter the silken pavilion to disarm, laying aside the favours and tokens, the scraps of ribbon the ladies have given him to carry. When he lifts off his helmet he will hand it to his squire, and see the world with misted eyes, falcons emblazoned, leopards couchant, claws, talons, teeth: he will feel his head on his shoulders wobbling as soft as jelly.”
p. 397: "There is a groan, one single sound from the whole crowd. Then a silence, and into that silence, a sharp sigh or a sound like a whistle through a keyhole: the body exsanguinates, and its flat little presence becomes a puddle of gore."
Bring Up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall which I loved so fucking much. The universe bless you, Hilary Mantel, in my opinion, one of the greatest fiction writers alive today, for using your genius to write historical fiction about the sexy Tudors, a genre whose books I will already read no matter how bad they are (see Gregory, Philippa; Plaidy, Jean). DEAREST MS. MANTEL, YOUR BOOKS FEED MY SOUL, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE ABOUT THOMAS CROMWELL, AMEN.(less)