The second book in a trilogy, Bring up the bodies is a compelling read. Part one was the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, which I came back to three times before I finished it - a long story involving too much on the bookshelf at the time - but the fact that I did so is testament to how much I enjoyed Mantel’s writing.
It was with great anticipation then that I launched into Bring up the bodies – and it more than lived up to my expectations. Written in the same third person narrative style as the earlier work, it continues the chronicle of the life of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s key minister. Wolf Hall traced Henry’s courtship and marriage to Anne Boleyn, the rise of the Boleyn family and the political and religious intrigues of the royal court. Bring up the bodies describes Anne’s fall from grace in the turbulent years 1535-1536, closing with Henry’s marriage to Jane Seymour.
Yet this is by way of background, as the central character is Cromwell, a man to whose inner thoughts we are privy and yet about whom we know so little. Born the son of a blacksmith and brewer, he has seen and experienced much in other countries and on other battlefields that has prepared him for life in Henry’s court. Trained in the law, he is a prime mover in not only bringing about Henry’s annulment from Anne and her eventual demise, but in separating the Roman Catholic Church from the English state and the dissolution of the monasteries and bringing in new laws and institutions that survive today. It is a fascinating fictional account of both the man and the times.
I loved this book; it’s a great read! Posted by Flappy Jandals
Watch Hilary Mantel talking about Wolf Hall - YouTube