Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2012
The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times best seller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?
©2012 Hilary Mantel (P)2012 Macmillan Audio
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
Simon Vance does such a good job narrating this sequel to Wolf Hall I listened a second time just to savor it again. Very strong images and rhythmic text, dialogue enhanced by reading as the different voices and personalities are distinct and add flavor. Shorter than the first book due to a much tighter time frame, this book concerns only the fall of Anne Boleyn. Important events of Cromwell's life are revisited helping to illuminate objects and memories for readers who have not read the first volume. Fascinating view of a well known historical event as imagined by the author from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, it is particularly of interest for those who are familiar with this period of history.
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.
condemned by infertility
Thomas Cromwell remains my favorite character because in him we see the makings of a statesman who held his own with royalty. Indeed, Henry VIII does not understand yet just how valuable Cromwell is. Cromwell is one of the few common men of humble birth who has ever been able to ascend to the pinnacle of power without having to be born into it or win it by combat. He is an everyman, a bureaucrat and a bit of a polymath. Kind to his servants, intuitive about what motivates people and skillful at using that motivation to benefit his king and country. He behaves humbly around those who think they are his betters but his humility is just a ruse. He subtly asserts himself and no one puts Cromwell in a corner.
The scene where Henry is knocked unconscious during a jousting tourney is my favorite. Suddenly, everyone's ambitions are revealed. But Cromwell puts his state and country first by defending the body of the king and he does this because he knows how close the country still is to a civil war. This scene is particularly well written and one can only imagine what Cromwell saw in the eyes of the dukes and other high level courtiers when the chance to sieze the throne was only a breath away.
One can only imagine what the courtiers saw in Cromwell's eyes and whether this was the moment of realization that lead to his eventual downfall. It was a moment when ancient feudal rite met modernity and for a moment, the feudalists blinked.
Jane Seymour comes across as a very clever girl. Maybe it wasn't always her goal to become queen, like Anne Boleyn, but Jane was someone who took advantage of opportunity and used her naturally reserved demeanor to promote her family. She's more like a cunning fox than a wolf.
My biggest problem with this book is that it hold up well in comparison to Wolf Hall. I realize that some listeners may have had problems with Wolf Hall because it is written in a non-linear style, part historical fiction, part biography. It tended to meander a bit with parts of Cromwell's domestic and inner life juxtaposing with current events in a not altogether easy to follow manner. But these are minor quibbles for a listener. Hilary Mantel is an author of extraordinarily lovely and powerful language. I was completely swept away by Wolf Hall because I had such a clear picture of what made Cromwell tick.
But Bring Up The Bodies seems to have "benefitted" from a more rigorous editing step. Someone slashed the size of this book down to an more manageable size but left a lot of material on the cutting room floor. Virtually nothing is said of the histories of the men who went to the scaffold with Anne. Some information comes through in their interviews with Cromwell but this is quick and not well fleshed out. We still don't know why Henry cut Anne off after her last miscarriage. I thought miscarriages were more common back then so there had to be another reason, perhaps medical, why Henry didn't think Anne would ever produce a son. There's no insight from doctors where they are saying, "Ah, yes, we've seen this kind of thing before. The first child is healthy but no other children live. No one knows why but we have seen that some families are plagued with it."
And then there is the motivation of Cromwell himself. It sounds like a combination of just serving the king and the desire to wreck revenge on the courtiers who continually pushed their social superiority in his face. I am unconvinced. It could be the lack of documentation but if anything, the earlier parts of Cromwell's life were more sparsely documented while this part was historic. Where Mantel allowed her mind to wander in Cromwell's in the first book, making for a coherent and consistent picture of this complex man, she pulls back in the second leaving Cromwell's personal feelings and motivations more mysterious and inscrutable. He comes across as more Iago than a Renaissance man, leaving us to continue to puzzle over the Anne Boleyn incident and his role in it. What a shame. She needn't have hurried the second book. Some things take time and need to develop at their own rate. I hope she reverts to form with the third book.
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.
The narration makes Cromwell and the surrounding characters come alive. It was addicting, engrossing, and hard to take the earphones off.
It was true. Since Bring up the Bodies I have been reading a lot of non fiction books about English history. Currently listening to The Plantagenets by Dan Jones but the narration is so inferior to Simon Vance it is hard to continue. Eagerly awaiting Hilary Mantel's third and final installment of Cromwell's story.
He played each character so well that you know instantly who is speaking from the change in Vance's voice. I really loved his portrayal of Sir Thomas More. His reading made the story feel so current.
Thomas Cromwell of course - charming and ruthless.
If you download one book this year download Bring up the Bodies.
Intricate historical detail delivered in effortless prose. Insight empathy and a grasp of history matched only by vocabulary. I highly recommend these two tomes penned byantell
Been listening when listening to books was unheard of - and on tape. I've evolved along with Audible and love everything about Audible!!
I liked everything in this book. I could listen to Simon Vance 24/7! Consider we know how it all ends, yet I could not stop listening. Hilary Mantel is a master of words.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
Wow! Just wow. This is a really great series that explores the personality maturation of one of histories most enigmatic figures, Thomas Cromwell. Without being pretentious, inflated, or self-indulgent, Mantel is able to build out and expose the potential evolution of Thomas Cromwell from blacksmith's son to Henry VIII's chief minister. I recommend this series to everyone.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“Bring Up the Bodies” fictionally recreates the history of King Henry the VIII’s schism with the Roman Catholic Church. Hilary Mantel writes the story of Anne Boleyn’s demise and Thomas Cromwell’s role as the King’s henchman in separating Boleyn’s head from her body. Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies” reminds one of Hamlet’s “The play’s the thing!” which will out the truth.
Anne Boleyn is never characterized as a weak, simpering woman but as a passionate, calculating, and forceful female that refuses to be cowed by the King, Cromwell, or her lascivious and narcissistic family. She hates like a man but uses her feminine allure to seduce a King and transfix a multitude of suitors.
Mantel shows that Henry the VIII is the dominant force in decisions made in England but the instrument of execution for the King’s decisions is the brilliant, irreligious pragmatist and tactician, Thomas Cromwell. Mantel’s first book, “Wolf Hall”, sets the stage for Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power; Mantel’s second book “Bring Up the Bodies” is the play, with Cromwell as the main actor, the Queens as supporting actresses, and noblemen as bit-players; with the King as producer and director.
Say something about yourself!
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.
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