Bring Up the Bodies: The Spoiler Zone

By Guy Somerset In Book Club

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1st June, 2012 3 comments

This is the place to be if you’ve finished Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies and want to talk freely about it. If you’re still reading the novel and don’t want anyone ruining the plot for you, please go to our No-Spoiler Zone.

Here, by the way, is an extra Mantel interview for you, the one Jane Westaway did with her when Wolf Hall was released.

And this is Mantel talking to Kim Hill:

More by Guy Somerset

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3 Responses to “Bring Up the Bodies: The Spoiler Zone”

  1. Teresa Gordon Jun 26 2012, 1:21pm

    Whew! Made it to the finish line just in time I think.

    I set myself the task of reading Wolf Hall first, even though Guy said it wasn't necessary. He was probably right but I have an overwhelming need to read book series in their chronological order. I didn't realise quite how long it would take me to read Wolf Hall (two weeks) and in comparison, Bring Up the Bodies was a quick read (in about four days).

    I really enjoyed both books. I enjoyed Wolf Hall because it gave such a great insight into Thomas Cromwell's life even though it seemed to drag and get bogged down at times (the
    Thomas More affair seemed to stretch for aeons). I enjoyed Bring Up the Bodies because it was such a great story (which is why so many people have written novels about it I guess). I loved all the delicious hypocracies involved in Anne Boleyn's trial and annulment of her marriage that I may not have appreciated so much if I hadn't read Wolf Hall first.

    I confess I imagined more than once this story being made into a Blackadder series with Rowan Atkinson playing the role of Cromwell and maybe Stephen Fry as Heny VIII.

    On a more serious note (I don't have too many of these in my life!) the book made me reflect upon which issues in life I would "put my head on the line" for. The concept of dying for one's beliefs as happened so often in both books is such a foreign concept to me living my soft, cosy western post-modern existence.

    Thanks for the opportunity to read this book. I will definitely recommend it to my historical fiction loving friends.
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  2. Alice13 Jun 24 2012, 8:47am

    Brilliant. Best book I've read this year, by miles.
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  3. Cathy Clarke Jun 16 2012, 1:42pm

    I’m not usually book-series reader, I like something new each time, but I do have favourite authors and after reading Wolf Hall last month I was keen to read more on Thomas Cromwell. I have done a history paper on ‘The Tudors and the English Reformation’ so I was familiar with the cast of characters and their outcomes. Instead of Cromwell as the one-dimensional, sly, evil henchman of Henry VIII and the machinations and intrigues of court, Mantel makes him human – with family and friends that he loves and a sense of humour. You come to admire the man, his extraordinary rise to power, his administrative skills, his astuteness and loyalty – I would describe both books as the Restoration of Thomas Cromwell.

    It is the wonderful writing that brings him alive – I didn’t mind the ‘he, Cromwell’, an archaic flavour that felt like you were seeing things from behind his eyes with his sense of detachment and wariness. Beautiful musical sentences abound: ‘His petitioners send him malmsey and muscatel, geldings, game and gold, gifts and grants and warrants, lucky charms and spells.’ or this, ‘Do not forget us. As the year turns, we are here: a whisper, a touch, a feather’s breath from you.’

    I loved the tender humour when Cromwell is ‘ironical’ about Chapuys’ Christmas hat and the crenellated jellies his cook prepares, but later George Boleyn ‘will feel his head on his shoulders wobbling as soft as jelly.’

    After the recapping of the beginning, the tension builds with the death of Katherine, and the absolute panic when Henry falls from his horse, and the scheming with the Seymours.
    There are hints of Cromwell’s vulnerability towards the end, with an unguarded moment seen reflected in the window, so I am looking forward to the next book ‘The Mirror and the Light.’
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