Archive for September 18th, 2012

Bring Up the Bodies

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

By Hilary Mantel

The Short Take:

Mantel follows up her exceptional Wolf Hall with the next chapter in the life of the infamous Tudor councilor, Thomas Cromwell. This book revolves around the downfall of Anne Boleyn and Cromwell’s role in bringing it about. It’s riveting and an easier read, too.

Why?

Mantel turns the historical novel into true literature. Her writing is absolutely brilliant. This volume is a bit shorter and more accessible than her first book about Cromwell. The fact that it spans a short period of time and contains a more limited cast of characters explains that.

Cromwell is an amazing character: a self-made man in a time when family class meant everything, he was generous, cruel, and brilliant. Everyone was his enemy, unless they wanted his friendship for their own gain. Mantel is more than equal to telling his story. She takes you inside his magnificent brain as well as his battered heart. This book is simply stunning. Plus, it’s nice to read a book centered on the short reign of Ann Boleyn that puts her to one side and focuses on the powers that set her downfall in motion and made in, ultimately, inevitable.

By the way, that rather frightening title is actually a quaint of way of saying “bring in the accused” at a trial.

A Little Plot:

Henry VIII is unhappy with Ann, his queen. She has not produced the male heir he desires and he’s wondering if it’s because his marriage to her isn’t valid. Plus, he has a growing interest ┬áin the shy Jane Seymour.

Since he proclaimed his first marriage to the still-living Katherine of Aragon invalid and set himself up as Head of the Catholic Church in Britain, it’s a sticky legal problem as well as a matter of religion, family connections, and personal affection.

It’s up to Cromwell to sort the whole thing out to (almost) everyone’s satisfaction.

I could not find a web page for Mantel, but you can find out more about here from her Facebook page or by a simple Google.

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