Diane's Reviews > Bring Up the Bodies

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, audiobooks, booker-prize

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 story of her trial and beheading has been told many times, but I loved how Mantel chose to show us the scenes from Cromwell's perspective, and how he helped manipulate the proceedings. Cromwell even maneuvered to help the King find his next wife, Jane Seymour.

This second book had good pacing and flowed more freely than the first one, perhaps because the first one had numerous flashbacks to Cromwell's childhood and the back-and-forth with Cardinal Wolsey. Taken together, they are a masterpiece of historical fiction, and I highly recommend this series.

Favorite Quotes
"You can be merry with the king, you can share a joke with him. But as Thomas More used to say, it's like sporting with a tamed lion. You tousle its mane and pull its ears, but all the time you're thinking, those claws, those claws, those claws."

"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."

"He needs guilty men. So he has found men who are guilty. Though perhaps not guilty as charged."

"Sometimes peace looks like war, you cannot tell them apart."

"Erasmus says that you should praise a ruler even for qualities he does not have. For the flattery gives him to think. And the qualities he presently lacks, he might go to work on them."

"How many men can say, as I must, 'I am a man whose only friend is the King of England'? I have everything, you would think. And yet take Henry away, and I have nothing."

"We are not priests. We don’t want their sort of confession. We are lawyers. We want the truth little by little and only those parts of it we can use."

"You have always regarded women as disposable, my lord, and you cannot complain if in the end they think the same of you."

"Who can understand the lives of women?"
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Reading Progress

May 4, 2012 – Shelved
March 16, 2016 – Started Reading
March 17, 2016 –
5.0% "I finished book 1 and immediately started book 2!"
March 19, 2016 –
16.0% "He has always done what was needed to survive, and if his judgement of what was necessary was sometimes questionable ... that is what it is to be young."
March 19, 2016 –
20.0% "Life is harsher to women, particularly women who, like Katherine, have been blessed with many children and seen them die."
March 20, 2016 –
35.0% "Chivalry's day is over. One day soon moss will grow in the tilt yard. The days of the moneylender have arrived, and the days of the swaggering privateer; banker sits down with banker, and kings are their waiting boys."
March 21, 2016 –
March 21, 2016 –
88.0% "It is no small enterprise to bring down a queen of England."
March 21, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Jeanette Hilary Mantel does historical fiction like few alive.

message 2: by Libby (new)

Libby Wow! Ok I'm in!

message 3: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala Glad you loved this, Diane :-)

Diane Hi Jeanette, yes! I need to read more of Mantel's work.

Diane Hi Libby, I hope you get a chance to enjoy this series!

Diane Hi Fionnuala, yes, I really did love it. It's such a fascinating period of history, and these stories were told really well.

message 7: by Rae (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rae Meadows Thanks, Diane--I LOVED this book, and I agree that is even better than Wolf Hall. I don't know how Mantel does it. Her project with Cromwell is really extraordinary and I cannot wait for the third installment, coming soon I think.

Diane Hi Rae, that is good to know the third Cromwell book is coming soon! I was happy to read that you also thought this second book was better than the first one, which was still great. Mantel is amazing.

Jeanette She does it in a different method than Mantel, but if you like historical fiction to depth of mundane work or psychological purpose, try Norah Lofts "house" books. The series ones have to be read in order. "Bless This House" would be one to try to see if you like her approach. Just like in Mantel, IMHO, the characters come alive.

message 10: by Henk (new) - rated it 5 stars

Henk Fully agreed, I loved Bring Up the Bodies more than Wolf Hall as well, it was really a thrilling and addictive read!

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