I have read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in their print editions and have now listened to them. I highly recommend doing both, and don't think it would matter whether you listened or read first. Both Simon Slater (Wolf Hall narrator) and Simon Vance (Bodies) are excellent, and their readings add much to what is already sublime writing. I almost hesitate to say that Hilary Mantel writes in a poetical manner, because it might turn some people off, but she does, with a style that is so immediate and accessible that you feel as though you are part of Thomas Cromwell. The history is fascinating and leaves you wanting more. Thankfully, she is working on the third volume of the trilogy. Even though I'm very motivated to read more on this period and these people, I think I'll wait until after I've read the third volume. I want to hear it from Hilary first!
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
As with the first in the series, Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel spins the Tudor story through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell and makes him realistic and relatable at the same time. This part of the story will take you through to the end of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn. The politics and intrigue of this time are intricate to say the least, and Mantel glides through it all like a born navigator, adding that extra depth to what you read in the history books. I even learned a couple of little things that I had to look up to verify.
Simon Vance, as always, is superior. Usually it's jarring when a new narrator steps in, but I'm convinced Vance should read pretty much anything dealing with historical England... and a great many other things besides. Just as Mantel adds depth to Cromwell, so too does Vance add that little something extra that's needed to bring the writer's ideas to life.
For my part, I'm left wanting more and hope there's another volume on the horizon.
Researcher/oral historian and fitness enthusiast from Austin, TX, currently residing in San Diego. I love to read, but traditional books require a person to be sedentary while reading. Audio books make it possible for me to increase both my physical activity and reading quantity.
1. Beautiful, creative, award-worthy writing and a new perspective on a timeless historic tale.
2. Stands alone.
It is not necessary to get the first book in the series (Wolf Hall) as Bring Up the Bodies does fine as a stand-alone work, but I am very glad that listened to Wolf Hall prior to Bring Up the Bodies as knowing details and characters in the back story was immensely helpful.
3. New narrator is a big improvement.
Unlike Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies does beautifully in the audio format and was very easy to follow because the narrator does such an excellent job. Though Wolf Hall is just as good if not better than Bring Up the Bodies, I gave an unfavorable review to Wolf Hall because I found it hard to follow and hard to stomach in audio format. I mentioned that the narrator might be the cause of this, but I wasn't sure. After listening to a different narrator for Bring Up the Bodies, I am100% sure that the change in narrator made all the difference in my listening experience.
I finally realized why I don't enjoy the talented and accomplished Simon Vance as a narrator: his voice strikes me as chilly, even though I realize he might in real life be the warmest-hearted person I could ever hope to meet. But what this meant for my "Bring Up the Bodies" listen is that I was left wondering if Hilary Mantel was telling the story of a man (Cromwell) corrupted by power, who had lost some of his human qualities—or if it was just that Simon Slater (for Book One of the series) was better able to express Cromwell's tenderness and regrets. I couldn't tell if Cromwell had changed, or if I was just confused by the change in narrator. Also, while "Wolf Hall" chronicles the rise of the plucky Cromwell and equally plucky Anne Boleyn, and it's the icky Thomas More who loses his head, in "BUtB" it's the demure (and less fascinating) Jane Seymour whose star is rising, and it's hard not to feel sorry for the innocent and/or naive courtiers who end up paying the ultimate price when Cromwell starts calling in accounts. Despite the excellent writing and narration, I didn't enjoy this audiobook as much as its predecessor.
Mantel is an excellent story teller with a rich language and a form entirely her own.
In Bring up the Bodies she fully delivers on the expectations I had after hearing/reading Wolf Hall.
Simon Vance reads the novel magnificently and help bring the characters discretely to life, so the story and characters and dialogue stands out and the narrator is almost unnoticed in the background.
One of the best audible reads out there.
Mantel with her wonderful dialogue and scenes touches the emotions in this story but Vances voice makes us feel the emotion each character is feeling that we could only assume in reading rather then listening. The voice and emotion that he gives each character makes the story come alive. It was perfect for me
It was great.
I doubt there's any one in this story I would be comfortable with having dinner.
I have read several historys of this period and have takien courses in English history. No doubt the many movies of the period have influenced me but Hilary Mantel's treatment of the dialogue and understanding of the characters helps explain much that was not clear but I belive is a true version of what occurred. The plots, the betrayals and the skill of Cromwell, as a master of carrying out the wishes of his king which he treats as the only measure of morality, is written in such a way for me as if the writer was there at the time.Cant wait for the next installment of this fascinating description of this period of history even though we all know the outcome.
I read a lot of reviews prior to selecting a book. I value my time too much to spend it reading a lemon. I hope my reviews will be helpful as you look for your next book
After reading all the great reviews I was eager to read this book. I really like the learning that comes with books about history, and I love a good novel. In my opinion this book was neither. It was boring to read, and seemed SO tedious. I got sick of hearing Cromwell's voice, and it felt like he was in every scene.
Books about historical events have the disadvantage of the reader already knowing the ending, but the good ones are able to insert twists and intrigue throughout the story. With this book I felt Mantel just kept plodding toward the finish line like a race with just one turtle.
The five worthwhile minutes mentioned in my headline are because this is a good historical story, it's just that it could be explained by a history teacher in 5 minutes. Then you'd still have time to go home and listen to a good book.
I would've liked this book more if I hadn't just read Wolf Hall. This is a very different Thomas Cromwell.
Remove the positive recollections of Walter Cromwell - considering Wolf Hall, they didn't make any sense.
I never considered Queen Anne had a French accent.
Ann Boleyn? Inconceivable!
Mantel's 2009 Booker Prize winning effort "Wolf Hall", to which this novel is a sequel, suffered, I felt, from a lack of editing. "Bring Up the Bodies" is tauter and, for that reason, actually better.
Vance is always a first-rate narrator, and he doesn't disappoint here.
Anne's final days
This book didn't start getting interesting until about 150 pages in. That's a long slog.
Didn't really matter. It's the writing that didn't do it for me. Though Richard Poe is one of my favorite narrators, so he might have made it a little better.
Spoiler--I did like the scene where everyone thought Henry was dead at the joust.
I don't understand why anyone is giving this book such a high rating. Members of my book club, so it's not just me, couldn't get into this book, either. Some of them totally dumped it. I kept with it even though I didn't like it for more than at first. Finally it started getting interesting about the time they thought (SPOILER ALERT) Henry was dead in the joust, but not. From that point on it was OK. I kept thinking, maybe if I remembered English history. Maybe if I'd read the book before this, though based on this one I had no desire to do so, or maybe I should just go and watch A Man for All Seasons.