Both books were excellent. I whipped through Bring Up the Bodies without listening to any of my usual podcasts (which is saying a lot!)
The human and political intrigue was gripping throughout.
I loved the dry assuredness of the narrator!
Exquisite Historical Novel
Cromwell is a deep, rich and complex character, beautifully scripted by Mantle
I read Wolf Hall but listened to Bring up the bodies. Much to my surprise, I preferred the listening ! The 'voices' attached to the characters seemed more colourful than those I had created in my own head, and the delightful use of the .......pause.....to give weight to Cromwell's real meaning was a great touch. Was totally caught up in the intrigue of Henry VIII court.
Haven't read the print version, but Simon Vance's delivery surely makes the words come alive.
Apart from Cromwell, the development of Jane Seymour and the decline of Anne Boleyn made them both flesh and blood characters rather than historical personages.
I would most definitely listen to this book again. It was clearly written to be read silently, but both this, the 2nd in the trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, and 'Wolf Hall', the 1st book of the trilogy, are excellent when read aloud.A good narrator, and in this instance I refer to Simon Vance, brings the characters alive in your ears. I expect to listen to this book many times again.The prose is magnificent. Written mainly in the present tense, it is vivid and living. I found myself understanding the choices and foibles of Thomas Cromwell, sympathising with Anne Boleyn who is far from a sympathetic character, and wishing Bluff King Hal had more balls!!Mantel's gift for bringing her characters to life, especially given that there has been much written on the main characters in 'Bring Up the Bodies', is very, very good.
I liked the immediacy of the narrative. I was swept along in the events of the era and the decisions made and the atrocities committed, just as if I were a member of the Royal Court surrounding Henry VIII. Hilary Mantel has chosen to use dialogue a great deal of the time. Long descriptive passages are kept to a minimum and as a reader I was right there, watching and listening.These events of Tudor history are so well known that it is easy to forget the drama and anxiety that Henry would have felt knowing that he was aging and had no son to inherit his throne. Henry could not know that the greatest of his children would be his younger daughter. Indeed he could not imagine a woman reigning in her own right. He HAD to find a legal wife who would bear him at least ONE living son.I guess Henry was also driven by his own carnal needs and lusts. Anne Boleyn certainly had it all over him for years.So it is the way in which Mantel has been able to show me, her reader, how desperate Henry felt about the circumstances in which he found himself without legitimate male issue, that has drawn me to this trilogy of books.
As the book closes, Anne is beheaded and Thomas Cromwell realises that he must move on to befriend Jane Seymour. He realises that Henry will want to visit Wolf Hall, the seat of the Seymours sooner rather than later.The last Queen is dead. Let her lie. Forget her, forget she ever was. Move swiftly to the new Queen and get ready for a new marriage, for new possibilities, for a son, please God. Clear the way for His Majesty, make it easy and discreet for him to find his new love and to wed her.The pragmatism of Thomas Cromwell is so well demonstrated.
The moment when Anne Boleyn realises that there is no option but her death for Henry and thus the Tudor line. She will not be allowed to live out her life discreetly in a convent. The only way that Henry can be certain that his next marriage is legal in the eyes of God and men - is for his current wife to be dead.Anne has no power left.
So who am I to criticise the 2012 Man Booker prize winner? A delighted reader who has enjoyed every one of the many minutes it took to read the story to me. Whenever I look at my freshly painted bathroom walls, I think of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Catharine of Aragon (more so in 'Wolf Hall') and the other sundry players in this wonderful book!
Only 4 stars, which feels a bit mean, but it's not Wolf Hall (which must be read first for this book to make any sense at all). Wolf Hall was truly exceptional, and any book would be hard pressed to stand up to comparison. The same comment goes for the narrators - which isn't to say that Simon Vance wasn't excellent. I really enjoyed Bring Up the Bodies. Not a lot happens but the cut and thrust of court politics and interpersonal conflicts are utterly intriguing. It is refreshing to read something so intelligent, original and really well written. I hope the final book in the trilogy will be as good as Bring Up the Bodies and don't mind waiting.
Yes, so beautifully written and exquisitely narrated. A very hard act to follow.
Anne at the tower
The scenes in which Cromwell gathers "evidence" of Anne's betrayals.
I will listen to this again and again. Simon Vance truly does Hilary Mantel justice. It took my breath away.
The content is historically fascinating and the author's writing very evocative. The reader was also excellent. Couldn't take off my earphones!!
No - I nearly always prefer the print version but there are many occasions when audio works best for me for one reason or another. Actually, well read audiobooks can have an edge because of the accents etc used by the reader. So, both are excellent!