Yet again the closely woven narrative that, this time, documents the decline and fall of 'the concubine' is utterly enthralling in both the writing and performance. Double Booker Mantel is peerless in her command of the language and the form; while Vance performs with flawless aplomb.
Although clearly well researched it was methodical and slow. Characters narrating instead of drawing you into an actual story line.
Mantel is truly a great writer. I was wary about reading this book because I can't be bothered with another novel about Henry VIII but this was a surprisingly fresh perspective. I wasn't expecting much but Thomas Cromwell is truly an amazing lead character for this novel. Its just the right breadth and length for someone like him who is important to history but not one of the famously major players. I appreciated the way Mantel used Cromwell to espouse some of what I believe to be her own views on the value of books, reading and writing. Mantel is truly an excellent storyteller! And I'm a tough critic!
Note: I read this book before Wolf Hall and I believe it is a great stand alone book. That being said, reading Wolf Hall definitely adds any missing pieces to the story. Wolf Hall can be read before or after 'Bodies' although its the first in the series.
It was a good retelling of the Henry VIII/Ann Boleyn story.
The plot developed at a good pace and the characterization was engrossing.
I was a little surprised by the overwhelmingly depiction in Wolf Hall of Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. In this book, the same laudatory tone continues. If there is any way to view a positive version of the politics of the time, Hilary Mantel will. The characterizations are well done, but I have a hard time accepting the wildly favorable view taken of the Protestant movement in England. I don't have any strong feelings on the matter, but I feel pretty sure that the reality is not as one-sided as it is in this novel. On the other hand, it is a very interesting version of a well-known story
Narrator brings you into cold, dark settings of castle chambers, into open fields and dark forests and into loud, festive banquet halls.. But at times it became monotonous. Great read for people interested in Henry VII during Anne Bolen's court.
This audiobook is unlike most of the books I order. For whatever reason, I started this book before Hilary Mantel's first one, Wolf Hall. Still, I found it fascinating. You learn a good bit of history, and the story is entertaining. Highly recommend it to others.
Currently a local truck driver who has hours to listen to my audio books. I am hooked, some of my fellow drivers enjoy them also
I could only by audio and and the story was great
Several memorable parts alot to list
Yes, I am a big fan of Mr. Vance enjoy his work
I liked the title and not sure what I would call it
I enjoyed both books and am informed about the history of the English church
I've just started listening to BUTB -- and I immediately feel something is missing. It is Simon Slater's ability not only to play up Cromwell's tenderness and regrets (as another reviewer mentions), but also (just by his tone of voice?) to underline Cromwell's modern-seeming, stepped-back distance from the events around him. As I read Wolf Hall, I felt that Mantel was portraying Cromwell as an early incarnation of a 20th century man, which gave me a truly new perspective on the much-told story of Henry VIII. Perhaps Slater was not available to read BUTB, or perhaps the choice of Vance was intentional. Maybe More's death has aged Cromwell and hardened him. In the early pages of BUTB, Cromwell no longer can summon his feelings of attraction to Jane Seymour, and his dead wife and daughters have become blood-soaked falcons intent only on prey. Perhaps the chill of Vance's narration better suits this book. I'll find out.
Beautifully and evocatively written, this is the story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn and her family. It is told through the eyes of Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. King Henry appears to be a narcissistic psychopath, a problem if not caused by, certainly exacerbated by his lofty all-powerful political position.
Cromwell, on the other hand, is perfectly aware that what he is doing on the King's behalf is morally and legally wrong. He is simply doing his best to avoid being executed himself. If he takes a deadly revenge for verbal slights along the way he pretends not to enjoy it. At the beginning of this novel, Thomas Moore and Cardinal Wolsey, intimate advisers to the King, have already been publicly humiliated and executed. There is no benefit that would allow a shrewd person to get close to this monarch. He is dangerously paranoid and kills everyone he loves.
I'd particularly recommend this book to people who think capital punishment is a valid legal exercise and that public shaming serves some useful purpose. At one point Cromwell is asked by his son if he believes the queen and her "lovers" are guilty. He says, "They're guilty but not as charged." I have to wonder if, even in our own day, people are wrongfully convicted of crimes and even executed just to get them out of the way.
This is a book teeming with great characters. Nonetheless I became most interested in Thomas Cromwell the protagonist. His thinking is obtuse. His decisions as sly at Machiavelli's. His ability to see three moves ahead in this dangerous and hypocritical court lifestyle raised him from a blacksmith's abused son to The Earle of Essex.
I have and Simon Vance is one of the finest readers of audio books we have currently. His work is consistently engaging and well-researched. His pronunciation is nearly flawless.
Honestly I'd be apprehensive about getting close to anyone in this scenario. I don't think my life would be worth the price of the dinner. That said I'd probably enjoy a conversation with the Princess Elizabeth even at her young age in this story. She was the one who survived and to some extent lifted England out of the depression of these dark days. She did not survive because she had so many supporters. She survived because she knew when to hold back and when to push forward.
Beautifully written, suspenseful, loaded with both physical and mental action. Historical fiction doesn't get better than this.
It's hard to overstate just how good this novel is. Mantel breathes life into characters we have vague notions of from our history books. A rumination on power, survival, and human folly, "Bring Up the Bodies" is flat-out terrific. It works as a stand alone book, but for the complete experience, precede it by reading Wolf Hall.
I can't wait for volume three.