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Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #2)

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  49,750 Ratings  ·  6,264 Reviews
Winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2012 Costa Book of the Year Award

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
Hardcover, US, 407 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Henry Holt & Company, Inc. (first published May 2012)
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Gaynor Kaiser politics in my opinion never changes. back stabbing, lying, manipulation, power snatching, etc..the very definition of "politikos". Hillary Mantell…morepolitics in my opinion never changes. back stabbing, lying, manipulation, power snatching, etc..the very definition of "politikos". Hillary Mantell writes in a way that reveals how little human nature changes.(less)
André Silva No, The Mirror and the Light, the third book, is to be published sometime next year. (

Community Reviews

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May 18, 2012 David 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,
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
Jun 02, 2012 Teresa 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
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
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
May 04, 2012 Diane 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
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 20, 2012 K.D. Absolutely 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
Jul 12, 2012 Heather 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
Mar 08, 2016 Tim 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
May 12, 2012 Nancy 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
Jun 10, 2012 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, brits, mttbr-2013
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
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
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
Nov 20, 2012 Darwin8u 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
B the BookAddict
Jun 24, 2014 B the BookAddict 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
Apr 10, 2012 Jane 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
Dec 01, 2014 Paul 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
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
Jan 17, 2013 Sue 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

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
May 05, 2012 Trish rated it it was amazing
This second volume in Mantel’s proposed trilogy has fear and trepidation woven into the very sentences. Cromwell has moments of prescience when he can see that his tendency to go “all in” on support for the people he works for will bring him grief and destruction in the end. But, you know, I like him better for it. The man who could rewrite Machiavelli and teach him a thing or two has, at heart, a heart.

In Mantel’s novel I often got the notion that Cromwell directed the King’s attention towards
Jan 30, 2013 Madeline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historic-fiction
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
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
May 10, 2012 Heraklia rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 01, 2012 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 24, 2013 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013, reviewed
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
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
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Hilary Mantel's trilogy 2 38 May 04, 2016 07:32AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: # 72 Bring up the Bodies 1 2 Sep 30, 2015 09:38AM  
Tudor History Lovers: August 2015 - Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel 16 68 Aug 27, 2015 08:17PM  
The sequel 28 293 Jan 21, 2015 09:36AM  
  • Saville
  • Boom!
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England
  • The Lighthouse
  • Something to Answer For
  • Bury Me Deep
  • Philida
  • Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake, #5)
  • Queen's Gambit (The Tudor Trilogy, #1)
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • The Unicorn Hunt (The House of Niccolo, #5)
  • The Elected Member
  • The King's Confidante (Tudor Saga, #6)
  • Umbrella
  • Restoration
  • The Yips
  • Elizabeth I
  • Sacred Hunger
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)

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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.” 105 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.” 69 likes
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