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Bring Up the Bodies
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Buddy Reads > Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (February - March 2020)

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message 1: by Susan (last edited Feb 02, 2020 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan | 8011 comments Mod
This is the second in Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012. This win meant that Hilary Mantel became the first British author, and the first woman, to be awarded two Man Booker Prizes, as well as being the first to win with two consecutive novels.

Continuing what began in the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell #1) by Hilary Mantel , we return to the court of Henry VIII, to witness the irresistible rise of Thomas Cromwell as he contrives the destruction of Anne Boleyn.

By 1535 Cromwell is Chief Minister to Henry, his fortunes having risen with those of Anne Boleyn. But the split from the Catholic Church has left England dangerously isolated, and Anne has failed to give the king an heir. Cromwell watches as Henry falls for plain Jane Seymour. Negotiating the politics of the court, Cromwell must find a solution that will satisfy Henry, safeguard the nation and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge unscathed from the bloody theatre of Anne's final days.

We will, of course, be reading the third in the trilogy, The Mirror And The Light by Hilary Mantel The Mirror And The Light on its release, in March.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
I have just started re-reading this and am enjoying it immensely.


Roman Clodia | 3020 comments Mod
I hadn't noticed the first time that this picks up almost exactly where Wolf Hall ended - it definitely feels like volume 2 of a single work.

I know lots of readers complained but I'm finding the 'he, Cromwell' with the name inserted awkward and intrusive - just 'he' worked fine for me.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
I suppose she did, at least, respond to the criticisms :)


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 493 comments I didn't like Wolf Hall , but I am nearly halfway through this and have to say I am liking it much better. I prefer to know who is 'he'is and also there are not endless lists.


Roman Clodia | 3020 comments Mod
True!

Given that we'd been commenting on 'plain Jane' Seymour on the other thread, I sniggered when Cromwell explained her attraction to Henry as being her unintelligence... that he finds it restful! Tells us so much about Henry, Anne, Jane and Cromwell himself in one throwaway comment.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Although Jane is overlooked, she is obviously not, at all, stupid. I have just started my re-read (or listen) and, near the beginning of the book we have Henry, at Wolf Hall, falling asleep at the dinner table. It is only Jane who is prepared to wake him.

You do become aware how much women's worth was wrapped up in child-bearing too. Lady Rochford - the 'sinister' sister in law of Anne Boleyn (and good grief, what a family!) is seen as a failure, because of her lack of children. You wonder whether, given her terrible relationship with her husband and, seemingly, everyone else, she could have retired to the country. Did she want to be at Court, or was it forced upon her?


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
I loved the line, "in England it has been raining, more or less, for a decade." It's raining now :)


Roman Clodia | 3020 comments Mod
Haha, I also wondered if that was lost on non-UK readers ;)

Lady Rochford is sinister, indeed. I Iove the way Mantel makes flesh-and-blood some of these well-worn historical figures. Interesting question about why she stays at court. I have the impression she (the fictional she) likes the power it gives her to be close to the throne. Outside these books, we know, of course, that she's intimately implicated in the fate of Katherine Howard.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Yes, that's right, of course. I have always found the Rochford's an interesting couple. Mantel focuses more on Lady Rochford than on George - certainly in Wolf Hall anyway.


Roman Clodia | 3020 comments Mod
Yes, here too. I wonder to what extent she was negotiating her way around The Other Boleyn Girl which takes George as a more primary character and which was such a bestseller that it had to colour the popular imagining of the Boleyns?


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Yes, good point, RC. Of course, now, with Jane becoming more central, we also have the Seymour brothers...

I like the way that Cromwell is always keeping all his opportunities open, though. Trying to be fair with Mary, for example, in order not to alienate her completely.


message 13: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 493 comments I did like this book, so much better than Wolf Hall. Pleased I read it, however, doubt that I will want to read the next.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
I have just finished re-reading this. Absolutely wonderful. Can't wait for the third book next month, but nervously anticipating how she will approach the ending.


Nigeyb | 7589 comments Mod
Absolutely wonderful is right


I feel the same way about part three - 5 March 2020 is the publication date


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Pre-ordered on Audible.


Nigeyb | 7589 comments Mod
Me too


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Plus, I will admit, a hardback, signed copy, which I ordered from Foyles many months ago. I just happened to go in there at the right time, I think and was unable to resist...


Roman Clodia | 3020 comments Mod
Oh, so the Audible is coming out same time as the book? Interesting. I've pre-ordered the Kindle edition - can't wait!


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Yes, both on the 5th March. Not sure about others, but I often have trouble downloading Audible pre-orders and need to contact the help dept. As such, now I just keep titles in my wish list and download them as they become available.


Clare Boucher | 80 comments I’m enjoying my re-read but am finding the portrayal of Lady Rochford too sinister. She’s constantly dripping poison into the ears of Cromwell. I understand there’s no contemporary evidence that her marriage to George Boleyn was unhappy. The rest of the book is so nuanced and subtle that this feels a false note.


Roman Clodia | 3020 comments Mod
Yes, I agree: Lady Rochford is a surprisingly one-note character.


message 23: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
I have just started this and am enjoying getting back to Mantel's writing. I was interested to see that there are character lists and family trees at the start of the Kindle edition of this one - I don't think Wolf Hall had these in the edition I read.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
I think Mantel did address some of the criticisms made towards Wolf Hall - she tried to make it clearer who was talking and to provide details of character and how they were related to each other. It was not helped by the number of characters called 'Thomas,' which is even mentioned by the King at some point.


message 25: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
Thant's interesting, Susan. I think it will be good to have it clearer who is being referred to - sometimes in Wolf Hall I found it confusing if another character had just been named, and then in the next sentence it moved on to "He". I would assume this was whoever had just been named, then find out several sentences later that in fact it was Cromwell, and have to reread the section.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
You weren't alone, Judy. For some reason, I never found it an issue, but lots of early reviews mentioned that as an issue and Mantel obviously addressed it in her sequel.


message 27: by Judy (last edited Feb 24, 2020 11:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
I was a bit surprised that we discover Cromwell was so determined to have More condemned, and put pressure on the jury - I didn't get this impression in the previous book, where he seemed to be trying to get More to save himself.

Although it's someone else who tells the story of him going into the jury room and telling them they can't eat until they find More guilty, he more or less admits it (except that he didn't have a hatchet!)


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
I think Cromwell becomes what Wolsey tried to be. If the King wants something done, you do it. Can be dangerous that, then, if you fail.

I put a link from the BBC on the Hilary Mantel thread yesterday. Lots of critics hailing the third in the trilogy as a masterpiece. Wonder if she could do the triple with the Booker? Although part of me wants to see Apeirogon getting the big awards this year...


message 29: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
I don't think she needs another Booker, to be honest - ideally, I'd prefer to see another writer get the big award and all the publicity. But we will see what happens.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Yes, but a hat trick would be something special :)


Nigeyb | 7589 comments Mod
Last year's Booker debacle suggests there's a lot more going on than just best book gets the prize - who knows what machinations go on due to the various vested interests

Still, Hilary is so wonderful that I'm happy to see her get more recognition, though I doubt she's the sort to be too fussed either way


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Well, I don't really have any faith in prizes, or judges. It would be special to get a Booker for each volume of a trilogy though.


message 33: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
I'm about 65% of the way through now, and just came up to a great line from Lady Rochford, talking about her father:

"He paid less mind to contracting me to Boleyn than he would to selling a hound puppy. If you think there's a warm kennel and a dish of broken meats, what more do you need to know? You don't ask the animal what it wants."

Clare commented earlier in the thread that there is no contemporary evidence the marriage was really unhappy, but I find the portrayal powerful here, even if it isn't historically accurate for the character.


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
Did others find their sympathy shifting during the book? I'm up to the fall of Anne Boleyn now, and starting to feel very sorry for her and to feel a lot less sympathy with Cromwell.


Nigeyb | 7589 comments Mod
Yes, I felt that too. Whatever her "sins" she doesn't deserve her fate


message 36: by Susan (last edited Mar 09, 2020 01:09AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Historically, Anne Boleyn was, you feel, ahead of her time. She was a demanding, ambitious woman, in a time where women were meant to put up and shut up, as with Lady Rochford.

Mantel writes her female characters well. She understands the power a woman wielded beyond the scenes, but also the fact that there are limits, which Anne Boleyn doesn't recognise until it is too late.

I must admit that, when I visited the Tower of London last year, and saw the green where Anne was executed, I did feel a great deal of sympathy. Of course, the pertinent line in this book is the one about how anyone who is made, can be unmade. I think Anne says it to Cromwell and, of course, later it also applies to him.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Lady Rochford is one of the most compelling characters in the trilogy for me.

I think I will re-read Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford Jane Boleyn The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox after finishing the trilogy. If anyone fancies a buddy read....


message 38: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
Sounds interesting, Susan - I am a bit overwhelmed with books at the moment, but would like to read it.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
We can leave it on the back-burner.


message 40: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "We can leave it on the back-burner."

Thanks, I'll see how quickly I read the third book. About 80% of the way through this one now, so I'm getting there.


message 41: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
I've finished Bring Up the Bodies now, and I thought it was excellent, although I have to say that I did prefer Wolf Hall. I think the language of the first book is more stunning, and it becomes increasingly difficult to look through Cromwell's eyes in the later stages of the second one, as he sets about plotting Anne Boleyn's fall. I loved both, though.


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Glad you enjoyed it, Judy. I preferred the writing style in Wolf Hall, even though some readers found it confusing.


Nigeyb | 7589 comments Mod
Are you moving straight on to 'Mirror' Judy? Or are you going to have a break?


Nigeyb | 7589 comments Mod
I think there's quite a strong argument in favour of reading them in quick succession. There are so many characters that having them fresh in your mind is an advantage which makes it even more rich and enjoyable


Susan | 8011 comments Mod
Yes, I am so pleased I re-read the first two before this one. It is a reading experience to be savoured.


message 46: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "Are you moving straight on to 'Mirror' Judy? Or are you going to have a break?"

I think I will have at least a short break while I finish a few other books, but don't want to leave it for too long.


message 47: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 3805 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Glad you enjoyed it, Judy. I preferred the writing style in Wolf Hall, even though some readers found it confusing."

Ironically, I was one of those who found it confusing, but came to the conclusion I still preferred it, because, aside from the "He" confusion at times, it was very rich and poetic. Bring Up the Bodies was easier to read but I found the prose of Wolf Hall so seductive.


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