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Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2)
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Past Reads > Bringing up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, pages 201 to the end

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George (georgejazz) | 369 comments Mod
Please make comment here on Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, pages 201 to the end.


Irene | 443 comments I think Cromwell came off more virtuously in Wolf Hall. Maybe because he seemed to be contrasted favorably with Thomas Moore. But, he does not seem to have any integrity in this volume. He is a brilliant observer and manipulator of the people around him. I am surprised how quickly he is selling out Anne Boleyn after he was the one who made her. The only reason for his abandonment of her, even his plotting against her, is that he has stuck his finger in the wind and realized that Henry has lost interest in her and is moving on to other women. Why he would back Jane is also a bit of a mystery. She seems has nothing to recommend her except that Henry seems to be fascinated. But, it is obvious that Henry falls in and out of interest in women faster than Trump has time to draft a twitter post. So, why take down Anne and put in Jane? I liked Cromwell in Wolf Hall to some degree. Here I admire him for his political IQ, but I do not trust him as far as I can throw him and have grown to dislike him. I wonder why the change in his portrayal. Is it just me as a reader or is he depicted differently. Is this supposed to show how service in Henry's court has altered this man?


Irene | 443 comments Finished last night. Henry's court is a miserable place, the 16th century England is an aweful time, Cromwell is a brilliant but ruthless and selfish survivor and Jane is screwed. That is my take away. But this is a very well written book that conveyed a time and characters extremely well.


Irene | 443 comments Here are some discussion questions from the publisher. Maybe some of these will spark conversation after we had a chance to read it.

1. The novel starts off with a description of hawks soaring in the sky and swooping in to slaughter their prey. In the same manner, the novel closes off with an image of a fox attacking a hen coop. What is the significance of these animals and what do they symbolize?

2. How has Cromwell’s upbringing influenced him to become the shrewd and ambitious man that he is? What is the significance of Cromwell refusing to adopt the coat of arms belonging to a noble Cromwell family even as he widens the chasm between his father and himself? How does Cromwell view family and how is it different from his own experience growing up?

3. How is King Henry VIII described in the novel? Is he self-serving, or does he truly believe in the validity of his actions? Does he come over as a sympathetic character?

4. Katherine is accused by Cromwell of causing the split within the church, and of endangering her daughter Mary, by her stubborn resistance to the King’s wishes. Do you view Katherine as a relentless and self-indulgent queen or is she noble for staying true to her beliefs?

5. Cromwell believes that England “will keep spiraling backwards into the dirty past” unless blunders are forgotten and old quarrels ended. How does this belief influence his actions in trying to build a new England? Does the king help or hinder him in this urge for renewal? How far are Cromwell’s actions unselfish, and how far are they self-serving?

6. King Henry had fawned over all three women (Katherine, Anne, Jane) at one point in time. His past actions indicate that he loved his former wives, yet each affair proves temporary. How does Henry view love? Why do the women in the novel endeavor to wear the “poisoned ring?”

7. There is enormous power in a woman’s gaze. How do the women in this novel utilize their feminine wiles to their advantage? What effect do they have on men subject to their lure, and what does this tell you about women’s power over their male counterparts?

8. Birth and is a major conceit throughout the novel. As “nails give birth to nails,” are children the product of their parents? Consider the parent-child relationships in the novel. What influence do parents have on their progeny?

9. When the King is thought to be dead after a jousting accident, there is a sudden rush to claim the crown. Are the players idealists, attempting to realize their political and religious ideals for England, or are they simply interested in getting power for themselves?’

10. Anne Boleyn is accused of committing adultery and even incest. Could there be any truth in these accusations, or are they complete fabrications by her enemies? How does she change once she realizes she is in danger?’

11. Cromwell seems very protective of Wyatt and saves him from death, even though he is widely suspected of being one of Anne’s lovers. Why does Cromwell feel such a strong need to defend him when he vehemently accuses others of being the Queen’s bedfellows? What sets Wyatt apart from the other men portrayed in the novel? What have Wyatt and Cromwell in common?’

12. Does the novel make you reconsider your view of the Tudors?

13. The story concludes with Cromwell’s claim that there are no endings, only beginnings. The country now has a new queen and a new leading family. What does this mean for England’s future? What do you think Cromwell’s role will be in the new order?

14. The execution of Anne Boleyn is one of the most frightening moments in English history. Anne’s last words are scripted to appease the King. What do you think would have been Anne’s last words had there not been any consequences?
(Questions issued by publishers.)


message 5: by George (last edited Aug 08, 2017 05:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

George (georgejazz) | 369 comments Mod
I think Mantel portrays Cromwell fairly sympathetically. For me he is a wise, astute, diplomat who tries to comply with Henry VIII's wishes. I confess that I was not impressed with Cromwell during the scene of Mark's confession and that of the other suitors (?) to Anne. I found Henry VIII's power to do as he pleases with people's lives disturbing.
Thanks for the questions Irene. Here are some of my thoughts on some of the questions.
Q 3. Henry VIII is self serving. I have no sympathy for him at all.
Q 4. I view Katherine, who was married to Henry VIII for 21 years, as within her rights to try to ensure her daughter Mary is recognised as a legitimate heir to the throne. Cromwell is trying to make a path for Henry VIII to be able to marry again. Fortunately Katherine died and the idea of annulling Katherine's marriage to Henry VIII as she had previously be married to Henry's brother didn't have to be acted upon.
Q5. Cromwell's actions seem to be that of a very good 'public servant'. He acts as the King's agent. However he certainly benefited from a lot of the decisions he had a part in, so the decisions can be viewed as self serving.
Q6. I think after the failure of Henry to have a son with Katherine, he became too focussed on producing a male heir and this lead to his view of love changing. (I recall reading elsewhere that Henry was quite devoted and in love with Katherine for a number of years).
The women wear the poison ring, recognising that Henry is the ruler of the Kingdom and his wishes are to be complied with.
Q13. Cromwell is walking on thin ice with Henry VIII. Whilst he gained a promotion, Cromwell's future is uncertain. Bowing to Henry VIII's shifting wishes and being seen as the hatchet man can only lead to disaster if Henry VIII's quickly changes his mind.


Irene | 443 comments 1. The novel starts off with a description of hawks soaring in the sky and swooping in to slaughter their prey. In the same manner, the novel closes off with an image of a fox attacking a hen coop. What is the significance of these animals and what do they symbolize?

Not sure I know what Mantel intends them to symbolize, but it gave the entire novel the feel of a brutal world where you are either hunter or hunted, where the powerful kill and eat those less powerful in order to survive.

2. How has Cromwell’s upbringing influenced him to become the shrewd and ambitious man that he is? What is the significance of Cromwell refusing to adopt the coat of arms belonging to a noble Cromwell family even as he widens the chasm between his father and himself? How does Cromwell view family and how is it different from his own experience growing up?

Being raised by a brutal, unpredictable drunk has taught Cromwell how to watch for every shift in the wind foreboding danger. He presumes the worse about every situation. He has developed an uncanny ability to read and react to people and situations and to keep his own thoughts hidden. He knows how to act without being seen because it is dangerous to draw attention to one's self. Leaving home young and fending for himself in diverse contexts has both taught him an amazing set of skills, but more importantly, how to depend on no one.

3. How is King Henry VIII described in the novel? Is he self-serving, or does he truly believe in the validity of his actions? Does he come over as a sympathetic character?

He comes over as a tyrant. I think he does believe that he needs to leave a legitimate son to ascend the throne when he dies or else civil war may once again break out in England. But, he uses that as an excuse to drop wives for younger models at the prompting of his loins. He comes off as an over-grown toddler in many ways.

4. Katherine is accused by Cromwell of causing the split within the church, and of endangering her daughter Mary, by her stubborn resistance to the King’s wishes. Do you view Katherine as a relentless and self-indulgent queen or is she noble for staying true to her beliefs?

Katherine has a great deal at steak. She is not only fighting for some religious ideal of marriage, but far more practical things: the future of her daughter, the political balance with Spain and the rest of Catholic Europe, her family honor, her reputation.

5. Cromwell believes that England “will keep spiraling backwards into the dirty past” unless blunders are forgotten and old quarrels ended. How does this belief influence his actions in trying to build a new England? Does the king help or hinder him in this urge for renewal? How far are Cromwell’s actions unselfish, and how far are they self-serving?

I am not sure I picked up on Cromwell as a reformer of England in this novel. He came across as a political survivor whose place is secured only in as far as he does the King's bidding.

6. King Henry had fawned over all three women (Katherine, Anne, Jane) at one point in time. His past actions indicate that he loved his former wives, yet each affair proves temporary. How does Henry view love? Why do the women in the novel endeavor to wear the “poisoned ring?”

They each try to wear that poison ring for different reasons. Katherine and Jane are forced into it by their families. I doubt Katherine had much choice after Arthur's death. And, in this novel, I don't get the impression that Jane has much say in the ambitions of her family. Anne seemed ambitious in her own right. I think she believed that she could keep Henry happy, could produce the male heir that Katherine failed to do and so gain for herself power ane wealth otherwise not available to her.

7. There is enormous power in a woman’s gaze. How do the women in this novel utilize their feminine wiles to their advantage? What effect do they have on men subject to their lure, and what does this tell you about women’s power over their male counterparts?

Flirtation and sex was the only assets these women seemed to have. I doubt that the games these women played would be as effective today.

8. Birth and is a major conceit throughout the novel. As “nails give birth to nails,” are children the product of their parents? Consider the parent-child relationships in the novel. What influence do parents have on their progeny?

We inherit the genes of our parents that play a large role in personality. Our up bringing is highly influenced by our parents, the people, values, cultural contexts to which they expose us which shape our personality. So, in many ways, we are the product of our parents. But we are also unique individuals with a unique combination of genetic material and with experiences that parents can not fully control. Rarely does a child turn out to be exactly what a parent would have designed had a parent had that ability.

9. When the King is thought to be dead after a jousting accident, there is a sudden rush to claim the crown. Are the players idealists, attempting to realize their political and religious ideals for England, or are they simply interested in getting power for themselves?’

Power for themselves and for their group. No one can survive and thrive in this milieu on their own. In so far as there are certain values and ideals imbedded in that group, they are grabbing power to promote those values.

10. Anne Boleyn is accused of committing adultery and even incest. Could there be any truth in these accusations, or are they complete fabrications by her enemies? How does she change once she realizes she is in danger?’

I wondered how much truth was in these accusations. They certainly could be true. This court is full of people hopping in and out of one another's beds. Henry could not have been a particularly awesome sex partner for young self-absorbed Anne. Growing up in the French court would have exposed her to a culture that did not value monogamy. So, yes I think it is possible that Anne had other sex partners. But, knowing the danger, would she have risked it?

11. Cromwell seems very protective of Wyatt and saves him from death, even though he is widely suspected of being one of Anne’s lovers. Why does Cromwell feel such a strong need to defend him when he vehemently accuses others of being the Queen’s bedfellows? What sets Wyatt apart from the other men portrayed in the novel? What have Wyatt and Cromwell in common?’

The only reason that I could see that Cromwell did not condemn Wyatt was that he did not seem to have any personal vendetta against him. Cromwell seems to be settling old scores as he turns these men over to be condemned.

12. Does the novel make you reconsider your view of the Tudors?

Not really.

13. The story concludes with Cromwell’s claim that there are no endings, only beginnings. The country now has a new queen and a new leading family. What does this mean for England’s future? What do you think Cromwell’s role will be in the new order?

Knowing the history, I see Jane as a lamb led to the slaughter. And, Cromwell stands poised to continue to thrive as this book ends.

14. The execution of Anne Boleyn is one of the most frightening moments in English history. Anne’s last words are scripted to appease the King. What do you think would have been Anne’s last words had there not been any consequences?

This book does not put us inside of Anne's head, so it is not possible to answer this question based on this novel.

(Questions issued by publishers.)


George (georgejazz) | 369 comments Mod
Thanks Irene. I gained a greater appreciation of the book from some of your comments. I agree with all your points. Cromwell is a survivor. Sadly I don't think it matters whether Anne was sleeping with other men. Henry had decided he would marry someone else to have a legitimate heir to the throne. The only way it was going to happen was to get rid of Anne somehow.
I too see Jane as a pawn in Henry's ambition.


Irene | 443 comments Why did Henry give up on the possibility that Anne would have a son? She was not that old. She did not have the extensive history of miscarriages that Katherine had. Elizabeth is only a toddler. To me this feels like a man who is always looking for a newer wife, not a king desparate for a male heir. The need for a son may have been a legitimate concern when putting off Katherine, but it feels like an easy excuse for getting rid of Anne so he can have Jane.


George (georgejazz) | 369 comments Mod
The anne boleyn files website has an interesting page on the question of 'why was Anne Boleyn executed? On the page it states that Anne Boleyn had one daughter and two miscarriages and at the time of her trial she was 35 years of age. (Source: www.theanneboleynfiles.com/why-was-an...)

I have copied that following paragraph from the link above:

"Like many historians, I am convinced that Anne Boleyn and the five men were innocent victims of a plot devised to free Henry VIII so that he could marry again and have the chance of a son and heir."


Irene | 443 comments Why was Thomas so much easier on Wyatt than on the other men, letting him escape a trial and execution?


message 11: by George (last edited Aug 09, 2017 05:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

George (georgejazz) | 369 comments Mod
Thomas Wyatt, a diplomat and poet, escaped execution largely because Cromwell liked and admired him. Wyatt's father was a wealthy privy councillor to both Henry the VII and Henry VIII and a friend of Thomas Cromwell. In Bring Up The Bodies, Call-Me says to Cromwell, "Wyatt I see poses you no threat, nor has he slighted or offended you" p 399 (about 10 pages from the end of my copy).
The website, poets.org link states "Wyatt spent only one month in the Tower and shortly thereafter regained Henry’s favour. He would serve Henry VIII in various offices in England and abroad for the remainder of his life, and by all accounts was an accomplished diplomat."


Irene | 443 comments That line in the novel caught my eye also. It implies that Wyatt escaped charges and execution because Cromwell had no personal vendetta against him while the others had offended Cromwell in one way or another. This makes Cromwell a bully, using his position of power to exact revenge against past wrongs.


Irene | 443 comments Only a couple of us read this one. I certainly enjoyed it more than the first in the series. Is there a third? Anyone know the title of that one?


George (georgejazz) | 369 comments Mod
Yes. I enjoyed Bringing Up The Bodies more than Wolf Hall. There will be a third book on Thomas Cromwell. The Guardian reported on 5 July 2017 that "Hilary Mantel’s hotly anticipated final instalment to her Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall trilogy is unlikely to appear next summer, the author said this week. Responding to a question from the audience in her latest Reith lecture for the BBC, she said it was “increasingly unlikely” the book would be published in 2018 as she had previously hoped.

The novel, which completes the story of Henry VIII’s doomed right-hand man Thomas Cromwell, will be titled The Mirror and the Light."


Irene | 443 comments Thanks for that info.


message 16: by Carol (new)

Carol (caroltw) I just couldn't manage this one, sorry to say, but am glad to know about it, and the author.


Irene | 443 comments Well, off to another award winner on Friday.


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