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Publisher's Summary

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

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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One of My Most Favorite Listens

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Leanna
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 04-23-15

Do people ever really change?

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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THE PLAY'S THE THING

“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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Different Narrator Makes a Big Difference!

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.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brock
  • DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain
  • 04-12-13

A waste of 14 hrs and 30 minutes (out of 14:35)

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • beatrice
  • El Cerrito, CA, United States
  • 04-11-13

what a downer

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Excellent historical novel

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely stunning.

Would you listen to Bring Up the Bodies again? Why?

Yes!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Thomas Cromwell, of course!

Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

All of them--he was unbelievably good at inhabiting each character with slight changes of inflection and accent.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

When angels and devils switched places by the minute.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Better Than the First One!

If you could sum up Bring Up the Bodies in three words, what would they be?

Ann Boleyn? Inconceivable!<br/>

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Vance is always a first-rate narrator, and he doesn't disappoint here.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Anne's final days

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • San Francisco, CA USA
  • 08-27-12

Not the same T. Cromwell

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would've liked this book more if I hadn't just read Wolf Hall. This is a very different Thomas Cromwell.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Remove the positive recollections of Walter Cromwell - considering Wolf Hall, they didn't make any sense.

What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I never considered Queen Anne had a French accent.

Could you see Bring Up the Bodies being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful