Monday, May 07, 2012

Book Review: "Bring Up the Bodies"

If you liked Wolf Hall, you won't want to miss the sequel. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies (Henry Holt, 2012) hits shelves soon, and at least from my perspective, it's just as good a volume as its predecessor.

In the new book, Mantel gives us her fictional account of Thomas Cromwell's perspective on the period from September 1535 through the fall of Anne Boleyn in the middle of 1536. The short time-frame allows Mantel to really explore events deeply, from the death of Henry VIII's estranged first wife Katherine of Aragon, to Henry's growing disaffection for Anne Boleyn (and attraction to Jane Seymour). Cromwell was positioned perfectly to provide a view of all these goings-on, and Mantel puts him to good use. She's left out a few characters, &c. to make the story work better (see her Author's Note for details), and of course her version isn't meant to be the "real" story, but as a possible interpretation it certainly makes for an enjoyable read.

I wrote in my review of the previous book that having a search window open nearby as you read would be handy, but I feel like the characters have become a bit more familiar to us (or at least to me) in the meantime, and I didn't feel that need as I read this volume. That made it easier to just lose myself in Mantel's version of this, surely one of the most interesting few-month periods in English history!

[Update: The publisher's sent along a brief excerpt from the audiobook of Bring Up the Bodies, narrated by Simon Vince. Enjoy!] 

No comments: