Tuesday 12 June 2012

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

From what I have read, we know a lot about Thomas Cromwell's deeds but not a lot about his motivations, feelings or thoughts.

But this is what Hilary Mantel gives us with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Mantel gives Cromwell flesh, heart and thoughts. Via these two novels we see Cromwell's desires, his disappointments and doubts. We gain insights into his childhood and his family life. We feel empathy for his losses and fears. Mantel's intimate portrayal of Cromwell shows us a man full of contradictions.

Mantel helps us to understand how it might have been to live under the reign of Henry and how events might have evolved into the facts that we know. We see personalities clash amd listen in on key conversations.
Mantel gives cause and effect a voice. She shows us the consequences of betrayal, lies and outrage.

Changing loyalties, personal safety, fear, loneliness, revenge all have their roles. Through Cromwell's eyes we see the dangers of the Tudor court, a King declining into despotism, not afraid to kill to get his way. And what the people around him have to do to keep their heads and the peace!

Such big themes rich in drama and complexity.

How extraordinary to feel love and sympathy for a man reviled in the history books.

Bring Up the Bodies is a wonderous read.

I can't wait for the final instalment.


  1. I can't wait for the final installment either. I love how Mantel has chosen to portray Cromwell in the novels.

  2. Anonymous19/6/12

    Thanks for this enthusiastic review. here is mine, also enthusiastic, who would not be??: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/06/13/2012-27-review-bring-up-the-bodies/

  3. I enjoyed this one even more than Wolf Hall. Maybe it was because I had got used to Mantel's present-tense style. It also seemed to build to a more dramatic turning point....


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