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.
So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.
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 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.
I enjoyed Wolf Hall and wanted to listen to the sequel. What a stunning writer, Mantel is-- beautiful, lyrical, and complex. Mantel's treatment of Cromwell is much more sympathetic than that of other writers of the Tudor period in English history. The narration is also excellent. A bookclub friend and I agreed that these two books are much more "readable" in the auditory rather than print versions.
Thomas Cromwell, of course!
All of them--he was unbelievably good at inhabiting each character with slight changes of inflection and accent.
When angels and devils switched places by the minute.
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
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.
Narration was excellent. Full of lovely subtleties and clear throughout complicated dialogues. There are times I got lost in the details and all the names, but backtracking a bit helping me follow everything.
Costume drama queen
Let me first say that Simon Vance is flawless in his performance. He's so much like Mark Rylance in his delivery, it's uncanny. He has become my favorite male narrator. He has the perfect amount of "matter of fact" tone that I would imagine the real Cromwell had. His duty was to serve the king and grant his every desire regardless of what he, Cromwell, had to do to provide it. He knew the queen was innocent, but the king wanted her out of the way. I don't think he was a man who didn't care or have empathy, but I believe he was blinded by his duty to serve Henry. He, Cromwell, had an extremely tough childhood which helped mold him into the seemingly stone hearted man he was.
Hilary Mantel is a brilliant writer. She brought the man to life. This book and its predecessor, Wolf Hall, were, IMHO, never dull, never boring, and perfectly outlined the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn through the eyes of the man who lifted her in the ranks and then brought her to the scaffold.
I read and/or listen to a lot of Tudor fiction. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are surprisingly inventive, and bring new life to well-worn characters and plot lines--even for someone very familiar with them. Her Cromwell is the most complete and complex representation I've seen. The dark psychology of her works are beautiful and disturbing. It feels like an exploration of human nature and ambition, and the Tudor setting is almost incidental (though faithfully and intricately constructed).