Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2)” as Want to Read:
Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bring Up the Bodies

(Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #2)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  58,375 ratings  ·  6,783 reviews
Alternate Cover Edition ISBN 0805090037 (ISBN13: 9780805090031)

The sequel to Hilary Mantel's international bestseller and Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the downfall of Anne Boleyn.
Though he battled for years to marry her, Henry VIII has become disenchanted with the audacious Anne Boleyn
Hardcover, First US edition, 412 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Henry Holt & Company, Inc. (first published May 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bring Up the Bodies, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Nancy Lanoue Absolutely! That is the central idea that the book brought home to me. That's what kept me turning the pages. The precision that Mantell disects the…moreAbsolutely! That is the central idea that the book brought home to me. That's what kept me turning the pages. The precision that Mantell disects the thought patterns and actions of Thomas Cromwell is masterful.(less)
André Silva No, The Mirror and the Light, the third book, is to be published sometime next year. (

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  58,375 ratings  ·  6,783 reviews

More filters
Sort order
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
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,
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Mantel is such an excellent writer; her prose is eloquent and artistic, beautiful even.. Few writers have such skill. She uses every grammatical tool at her disposal to give her novel a strong individual sense of stylistic flair. And that’s just the surface level of her sentences; she also uses metaphor and constant allusions to take it to another level entirely.

For example, my favourite passage in the book:

“He looks around at his guests. All are prepared. A Latin grace; English would be his c
Will Byrnes
His whole career has been an education in hypocrisy. Eyes that once skewered him now kindle with simulated regard. Hands that would like to knock his hat off now reach out to take his hand, sometimes in a crushing grip. He has spun his enemies to face him, to join him: as in a dance. He means to spin them away again, so they look down the long cold vista of their years: so they feel the wind, the wind of exposed places, that cuts to the bone: so they bed down in ruins, and wake up cold.
Be car
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
There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one....

The books of Hilary Mantel on Thomas Cromwell are superb, grande. We all know the history of Henry VIII but Wolfhall and Bring Up the Bodies are refreshing, sharp, intelligent, much more than 'just' historic tales. I give a slight preference to Wolf Hall, because that book was groundbreaking, a new take on this famous piece of history, seen through the eyes of Thomas
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this second book about Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII even more than the first one!

I started reading Bring Up the Bodies as soon as I finished Wolf Hall, and I've enjoyed this series so much I'm excited for Mantel's third volume, whenever it's published.

While Wolf Hall focused on the rise of Anne Boleyn and how she became Queen of England, Bring Up the Bodies is about how the King decides to leave Anne when she can't give him a son, and her subsequent downfall and execution. The st
Heidi The Reader
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hilary Mantel's brilliant trilogy about Thomas Cromwell continues with Bring Up the Bodies.

Cromwell is the right-hand man of Henry the VIII. His masterful manipulation of people and circumstances to make the world as Henry wants it has brought Cromwell wealth and power.

Getting Anne Boleyn on the throne was a struggle. Now he has to get her off of it without losing his own head in the process.

Mantel doesn't just tell history, she makes it come alive.

In one scene I can't get out of my head: Henry
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In "Bring up the Bodies" Hilary Mantel has written a shorter and tighter novel than its predecessor "Wolf Hall", and it is just as good! I tore through the book in a few days, and I am eagerly anticipating the third and final installment in the series.
Most of the joy of "Bring up the Bodies" is Mantel's lovely writing, and her masterful creation and depiction of the series' main protagonist Thomas Cromwell. The story is told mainly from a third person perspective, but it is an omniscient narrato
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Of course if you loved Wolf Hall you’re going to love this too. It’s slightly different in tone and texture to Wolf Hall though. Less richly dense and intimate; quicker paced, covering as it does a much smaller time frame than Wolf Hall. I read somewhere Mantel heeded criticism of her excessive and confusing use of the pronoun he in Wolf Hall. And it’s true she is much clearer here, always referring to Cromwell by name whenever there might be confusion. What this does is remove some of the sympa ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
“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.”
― Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies


100 pages in and it is hard to miss that this isn't just a nominal sequel to Wolf Hall, but rather the first book's logical annex. There is no drop-off in complexity. No laxity of language. Again, Mantel manages to shift form, change structure and reinvent her style. She even manages to gi
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

"You perceive it is an old song that I am trying to rework. What pairs with blue? Apart from 'new'?"

I had a little bit of trouble getting into Cromwell's head in this book, the second in Mantel's Oliver Cromwell trilogy, but once I was there I was there. What the book really successfully replicated was the quite bewildering speed Henry VIII went off Anne Boleyn. One Tudor minute he was so obsessed with Anne that he was prepared to risk his crown and reputation, the next he could h
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I began this with tremendous trepidation. I loved Wolf Hall and kept wondering if this could possibly hold up, thinking of all those times when a sequel didn't. For those of you wondering that too, let me assure you: this is a great novel in its own right, and a more-than-worthy sequel. Mantel is again at the top of her game, writing with the same incisiveness and the same narrative drive that made Wolf Hall so fantastic. You know from the opening pages that you're in the perfect hands to tell t ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
B the BookAddict
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The second book in Hilary Mantel’s amazing series on the life of Thomas Cromwell. I seem to have an unlimited capacity for viewing the Anne Boleyn story from different points of view. I know the details already, so you might think it would be boring, but it is anything but. I can never help trembling just a little when Anne is beheaded, and wondering, as we all must, what her state of mind must have been to go from queen to discard so quickly.

This book has the more sensational part of Henry the
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mttbr-2013, brits, history
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
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
Description: 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
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Phil Collins sings my theme song for this one: I don't care any moo-oo-oore. Just don't care no more.
No more.

It's not easy being the only dissenter, but despite her books' popularity, they do not include any characters I feel any connection to. Yes, I did read Wolf Hall (most of it, anyway), so it is not my ignorance of historical happenings or lack of appreciation for Cromwell's ability to overcome his shoddy youth. It is likely a style-preference plus my apathy for the role and impact of Crom
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Alice Poon
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it

Prompted by the BBC TV series, I had previously read Wolf Hall (to which I gave 3.5 stars). While that first novel impressed me as leaning on whitewashing Thomas Cromwell (especially when contrasted with Thomas More), I found Bring Up the Bodies to be somewhat more balanced in the portrayal of his character.

The main storyline in this novel is about Anne Boleyn’s downfall and Cromwell’s hand in the elaborate scheme that brought about the indictment and execution of Anne herself, her brother, and
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thomas Cromwell "trilogy" 4 29 Nov 13, 2018 06:33AM  
Thomas Cromwell : Villian or Superhero? 3 19 Nov 04, 2017 06:32PM  
Literary Award Wi...: Bringing up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, pages 201 to the end 17 16 Aug 30, 2017 09:56AM  
Literary Award Wi...: Bringing up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, pages 1 - 200 8 10 Aug 07, 2017 10:21AM  
Hilary Mantel's trilogy 2 47 May 04, 2016 07:32AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lighthouse
  • The Fifth Queen
  • Elizabeth I
  • Pawn in Frankincense (The Lymond Chronicles, #4)
  • The King's Confidante (Tudor Saga, #6)
  • Saville
  • Restoration
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • Umbrella
  • Philida
  • The King's Damsel (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #5)
  • Devil's Brood  (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #3)
  • The Elected Member
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • The Garden of Evening Mists
  • The Siege of Krishnapur
  • The Yips
  • Swimming Home
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Thomas Cromwell Trilogy (3 books)
  • Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)
  • The Mirror and the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3)
“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.” 122 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.” 79 likes
More quotes…