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Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel



Posted May 5, 2016 by

Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel – 2012

Posted by Steven on 24/6/2012, 9:07:46, Bring Up the Bodies

I finished the sequel to Wolf Hall yesterday, reading half of it in one day which should tell you how engrossing it becomes. The subject is the fall of Anne Boleyn, with a much narrower focus in place, time, and cast than Wolf Hall.

This novel starts out as Wolf Hall ended, perhaps overly sympathetic to Thomas Cromwell, showing him as the perfect head of the perfect household and the wise and loyal servant to an unwise king. But midway through the book a darker side of Cromwell begins to emerge, and he is shown as a more complex individual, someone capable of putting his personal motives ahead of truth and justice.

If the theme of Wolf Hall was that history is made behind the scenes, the theme of Bring Up the Bodies is found in this quote (page 159): “What is the nature of the border between truth and lies? It is permeable and blurred because it is planted thick with rumour, confabulations, misunderstandings, and twisted tales.”

Posted by Lale on 13/7/2012, 7:48:32, in reply to “Bring Up the Bodies”

I finished the book and now I am having withdrawal symptoms. Where can I get more Cromwell?

If we assume that this fictional book was the truthful chronicle of events, then 5 people were beheaded just to please the king; the parliament and the justice system were nothing but a show, just to confirm what was already decided by Cromwell. Cromwell wrote the story and then executed it making a mockery of the parliament, the jury, the system … It was ridiculous and shameful.

I am now curious to read the downfall of Cromwell. And other wives of Henry.



Posted by guillermo maynez on 29/10/2012, 18:00:52, in reply to “Re: Bring Up the Bodies”

I finished this book last night and, just like Lale, I’m having dependency-withdrawal problems. I need the third volume in print now. This book is nothing like the “historical novel” type they sell in newsstands and airports. It is a real, good novel, which happens to depict historical events from an original point of view.

I like Thomas Cromwell. Steven says he puts his personal interest before the State’s; and Lale points out how he corrupts the whole process to invent crimes and criminals. Both are right, of course, but what did you want him to do? Time and again Cromwell reminds us that he is not the equal of most people that surround him. He is just a servant; a rich, powerful one, but servant all the same. He knows his time will come, the time to be defeated and brought down, but in the meantime he has to survive. And that means getting Henry rid of a woman who, at least in this telling, is not a worthy woman, but a scheming, arrogant, deluded social climber. As Cromwell himself thinks, she would have had Catherine and her daughter beheaded. Sorry about the lute player, Smeaton, and possibly about the other guys. It is clear Cromwell frames them all; it is also clear they had skeletons in the closet.

Now, having said that, I wouldn’t have liked to be interrogated by him. Or considered an obstacle in his political work. Oh no.

Great book.


Posted by Lale on 29/10/2012, 20:16:12, in reply to “Re: Bring Up the Bodies”

Yes, great book. And an incredibly lousy justice system. Mock trial and everything…

It surprised me that once you fall from grace even your family loses their land and gold and titles and stuff.

: I need the third volume in print now.

Same here!

But you do agree that it is not as good as the first one, right? I mean she did not have to win the Booker for both of these books, the first one was enough.



ReadLit Team


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