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Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2)
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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 | 5789 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 | 5789 comments Mod
I have just started re-reading this and am enjoying it immensely.


Roman Clodia | 1029 comments 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 | 5789 comments Mod
I suppose she did, at least, respond to the criticisms :)


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 292 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 | 1029 comments 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 | 5789 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 | 5789 comments Mod
I loved the line, "in England it has been raining, more or less, for a decade." It's raining now :)


Roman Clodia | 1029 comments 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 | 5789 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 | 1029 comments 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 | 5789 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) | 292 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 | 5789 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 | 5695 comments Mod
Absolutely wonderful is right


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


Susan | 5789 comments Mod
Pre-ordered on Audible.


Nigeyb | 5695 comments Mod
Me too


Susan | 5789 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 | 1029 comments Oh, so the Audible is coming out same time as the book? Interesting. I've pre-ordered the Kindle edition - can't wait!


Susan | 5789 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 | 76 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 | 1029 comments Yes, I agree: Lady Rochford is a surprisingly one-note character.


message 23: by Judy (new) - added it

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 2846 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 | 5789 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) - added it

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 2846 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 | 5789 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.


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