Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

I bloody love all things Tudor. Well, except the TV show ‘The Tudors’, but maybe I might have got into that if I’d watched more than one episode. Henry VIIIs hair was the wrong colour, and that was too much for me to take. Bring Up the Bodies has helped feed my addiction. The sequel to Wolf Hall (which saw the lead up to Anne Boleyn being crowned), this book follows the few weeks prior to Anne’s death.

Mantel is a wonderful writer. Her sentences flow beautifully. Her books are infinitely quotable. She makes me want to be a writer, but she also intimidates me with her brilliance. There are so many beautiful quotes I could take from this book and store up for when I feel the need to be dazzled.

As far as I’m aware, Thomas Cromwell isn’t seen as the nicest of guys normally, but Wolf Hall made an interesting break from tradition there – it really tried to show things from his point of view. He’s ambitious and determined, but you can see the reasoning behind his every decision. Bring Up the Bodies continued on this theme, but I felt it showed a more desperate side to him – as he’d gained power, his enemies really started stacking up against him, and some of his decisions seemed based more on self preservation than the good of the nation.

After reading some other reviews, it seems that some people didn’t get on well with Cromwell being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘he, Cromwell’ throughout the book. Although I can see why they might find that confusing, I thought it really made the reader feel closer to him. Honestly, I was so involved in the story that I didn’t have this problem, or, if I did, I was happy to reread a sentence every now and then because it was so beautiful.

Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for both this book and for Wolf Hall. This made her the first woman to win it twice, and the first author to win it for consecutive books. Well done, Hilary.

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