Jenny's Reviews > Bring Up the Bodies

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
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Jul 09, 12

bookshelves: historical, 2012-challenge
Read from July 01 to 07, 2012

Did not disappoint! This continuation of Wolf Hall is expertly done, and Mantel has dropped the grammatical quirk of the pronoun "he" always referring to Cromwell. With that cleared up, it's easier to read, and Bring Up the Bodies is also a bit shorter.

As in the first book, Cromwell is effective, efficient, and dryly humorous.* He embodies the dilemma of serving the king and of serving justice; for the king is not constant, and those who do not move quickly enough feel the consequences. "[Cromwell] needs guilty men. So he has found men who are guilty. Though perhaps not guilty as charged" (330). Through Cromwell, Mantel sidesteps having to declare the accused men's guilt or innocence of the crimes for which they were brought to trial. On a darker note, Cromwell has a personal grudge against these men, for their role in bringing down his mentor, father-figure, and friend Cardinal Wolsey in Wolf Hall.**

In general, I think Bring Up the Bodies can stand alone for those who haven't read Wolf Hall, though they will be missing much of Cromwell's backstory. Bring Up the Bodies also contained a note or two of foreshadowing that seem to point forward to the next book. Likely, to appreciate the books fully, it would be best to read them all in a row. Perhaps, when the third book is published, I'll re-read the first two.

*He was going to say, if I were kind I'd defenestrate you.
Gardiner says, "Why are you looking out of the window?" (33)

The feeling of venturing into a watery place, where soil and marsh are the same colour and nothing is solid under your feet. (80)

He has noticed this: that men who have not met him dislike him, but when they have met him, only some of them do. (81)

What is the nature of the border between truth and lies. It is permeable and blurred because it is planted thick with rumour, confabulation, misunderstandings and twisted tales. Truth can break the gates down, truth can howl in the street; unless truth is pleasing, personable and easy to like, she is condemned to stay whimpering at the back door. (159)

They are like two men crossing thin ice; leaning into each other, taking tiny, timid steps. As if that will do you any good, when it begins to crack on every side. (185)

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. (281)

**At least, he thinks, the fellow has the wit to see what this is about: not one year's grudge or two, but a fat extract from the book of grief, kept since the cardinal came down. (330)

A statute is written to entrap meaning, a poem to escape it. (348)

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