Costa Book of the Year, 2012
UK Author of the Year - Specsavers National Book Awards, 2012
Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2012
By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith's son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church.
In Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world.
©2012 Tertius Enterprises (P)2012 Macmillan Audio
Another astonishing tour de force from Hilary Mantel. A superb portrayal of a 'modern' politician in Tudor England - a brilliant, complex man both humane and brutal, subtle and blunt, ambitious and patient. Beautifully written, deceptively simple in style with flowing narrative, startling, vivid images and perceptive comments on life and people delivered with searing clarity and it all seems so effortless.
Not as well read as by the reader of Wolf Hall (who is superb) - the voices for the different characters are not well defined and the accents poor - but the narrative is well read and it doesn't detract from the excellence of the book.
Say something about yourself!
Mantel has produced another masterpiece. I didn't find it quite as satisfactory as Wolf Hall but even so I cannot give it less than 5 stars.
Her command of the period and the ability to make the reader feel they are in the room and know the characters are in my view matchless. This book is more tightly written than Wolf Hall, it is less shadowy and more focused on plot. I must admit I rather missed the dream-like quality and the flights of fancy from Wolf Hall but it is nevertheless a great listen.
One small thing rather bothered me though. Mantel, perhaps stung by some of the criticism of Wolf Hall from readers who didn't know which "he" was being referred to has peppered this book with "He, Cromwell..." etc. I found it a little intrusive, perhaps because I didn't find the references in Wolf Hall caused me any problems.
Simon Vance is an excellent reader but his characterisation was not, for me, quite as sure as Simon Slater's superb voicing of Wolf Hall. I found myself missing Slater's Cromwell a lot.
Despite all of this, I still rate this reading highly.
Radiophile and Teleophobe
This is the first exposure I've had to either Hilary Mantel or Simon Vance, and my ignorance of the historical period in question is almost total. Possibly I was more entertained than the majority of the less ignorant general population would be.
It says something about the quality of the source material, and the performance of the narrator that I was by turns:
* laughing out loud like an idiot in public, in reaction to a sarcastic discussion of a prized Christmas hat
* on the edge of my metaphorical seat anticipating events I already knew were certain to happen
* a lot closer to actual tears than I might care to admit at several points
Simon Vance's narration was just about flawless in terms of delivery - perhaps slightly reminiscent of a Pythonesque French accent at one point but nothing distracting.
Technically (at least in HQ) the recording had an intimate quality - no background hums, hisses, pops or clicks to break the illusion that it's just you, the narrator, and the story; a perfectly matched voice, punctuating deep silence.
I've seen some criticism of Hilary Mantel as a novelist; perhaps again from people with a greater depth of knowledge of the subject matter, and I'm not qualified to judge that aspect.
But as entertainment, I'm not sure what more could be expected from a novel.
As with Wolf Hall I will also be reading the printed novel, but have thoroughly enjoyed this narrated edition. Simon very clearly chills down Cromwell's voice as he interrogates Anne's "lovers" and elicits ambiguous confessions. I was there in the room with them. Hilary has addressed the problem within Wolf Hall in that you didn't always know who she meant by "he", by changing it in this novel to "he, Cromwell". This is a novel, like Wolf Hall, which I shall keep on my mp3 to dip into again and again.
I read Wolf Hall in print, but, for this sequel, decided on the audiobook and am so glad I did. As it is mostly dialogue it works particularly well in this format, especially with an excellent narrator like Simon Vance. It is as if you had travelled back in time to eavesdrop on the conversations! Hilary Mantel breathes life into her long-dead characters in a quite amazing way. As with Wolf Hall, the story is gripping, entertaining and completely fascinating.
Do you ever get slightly 'put off' reading massive best sellers, because maybe you fear that the hype will be better than the book? Perhaps I am guilty of this sometimes, which is the explanation of why I might be the last person in the UK to have fallen in love, very late, with these books.
I am reading factual books about Tudor history at the moment, supplemented by - in fact, kick-started by - some novels, especially the HM books about Thomas Cromwell. I enjoyed this one (the second) even more than the first, perhaps because it has more pace, but they are both really excellent. A third is being written this year.
The writing is very beautiful, with sometimes startlingly insightful descriptive passages which really illuminate the story, and greatly enhance the book. Which can also just be simply enjoyed as a fictionalised account of this era of Tudor history, via the vehicle of exploring periods of TC's life.
What the books have really done, is led me to read more widely about history, having previously only enjoyed history of the 19th and 20th centuries. I thought an in-depth look at Tudor history would be depressing and dull. It IS dark, brutal and plain odd a lot of the time, but it's not depressing and far from dull. It's addictive though. so these books may be your entry-level to a new Audible history habit - they were for me.
The narration, I think, is faultless. There are dozens of characters, and he gets the variety, pitch, and accents just right, without over-acting.
This book takes up where Wolf Hall left off. Henry VIII has married Anne Boleyn but his enchantment with her is waning, especially after his disappointment at her delivering a daughter. He is planning to ditch her and marry Jane Seymore. This short period of history is described in minute detail combining facts with imaginative speculation as to what was said or happened. There were times when the detail and sheer number of names was confusing, but overall it was a good listen. I think Wolf Hall is marginally the better book.
As with Wolf Hall, this short period of history is seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who, in this book is a less sympathetic character as he becomes embroiled in often repellent manoeuvres to find grounds to get rid of Anne. It must have been a dangerous time to be a member of the Court as Henry is a frighteningly unpredictable, selfish and self-righteous.
I thought the reader did a good job of giving the characters different voices which helped with so many characters to keep track of.
My opinions on this book seem to be in the minority and go against much of what has been said so I will accept that it is me that’s flawed and not the book.
I always listen to books whilst driving and I never have any problems following them. However this book proved a tricky number. The narrators mono-tone voice didn't help much either.
I am sure this book is a literary master piece as everyone is calling it. However it was lost on me. It seemed to keep skipping from one scene to another and I could never keep track of what was actually going on and how it was relevant to the story.
Another bugbear was the author beginning sentences with "He, Cromwell" when referring to Thomas Cromwell. I am sure it is a fancy literary thing which I don't get but it just seemed pointless to me.
I might buy the actual book and see if I have more luck reading it. But for the audio book I must say I found it extremely hard going and not enjoyable.
A book for the more literate and well read perhaps and definitely not to be listened to during a long drive.
I really couldn't get into this book, the story was so slow and turgid that I had to give up on my listening after 2 hours, quite rare for me. Disappointed as I expected something special after all the praise others have given it. The title sounds as if it should be full of action, it isn't!
If it were easier to understand which characters were speaking.
Robert Galbraith Silkworm
I just didn't get on with him
I tried twice but found I drifted and had to rewind so many times I just gave up. That's not happened before, and I listen to lots of audio books.
"As good as the Wolf Hall"
Having absolutely loved the 'Wolf Hall', I have expected this book with a mix of excitement and trepidation, and must say that it is absolutely fantastic. I love the way the story is told as perceived by Cromwell and I also loved some original twists in what has now become a very familiar tale (thanks to Philippa Gregory and 'The Tudors').
The narrator is perfect. I've enjoyed every minute of listening to this book!
"History so vividly told"
As in its predecessor (Wolf Hall), Mantel uses Thomas Cromwell to view the unfolding of critical history - the unravelling of the second marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. In Cromwell, Mantel re-creates the most fascinating of characters - a consummate man of the world who skilfully negotiates narrow and dangerous paths along the corrupt and unsteady cliffs of the English court. A certain weariness and cynicism can be detected in Cromwell's armour in this second volume of the trilogy-to-be as the compromises of principle heap up. One can only applaud this repeat achievement of massive research presented apparently effortlessly.
The narrator was perfect for the book.
"Wish I hadn't read this yet! A treat!"
Brilliant. Just an excellent story and what's more, it actually happened.
Read the other one too - just as good.
The accents, the intonation and the style were excellent.
Henry of course!
A must read for anyone who loves a good story.
Removed me from the 21st century and dumped me in the 16th using brilliant characterisation and imagery.
Enthralling all the way through
Insightful exploration all the way though.
Major and minor characters are both fascinating.
Loved "Wolf Hall" but this sequel is even more enthralling. Dreaded ending the experience. Once finished, I played it all over again. Hilary Mantel's talent is frightening. The narrator, Simon Vance, absolutely nails it. His Henry VIII makes me feel I know him ........which is a worry.
After I finished reading Wolf Hall I had to deliberately stop myself from simply reading this sequel. Perhaps that was a bit indulgent, but it did mean that I was looking forward to this with great anticipation - all positive. I guess I was a bit disappointed when I began to listen.
In part it was because Simon Vance was different in his reading of Cromwell. Henry's voice too had changed. Queen Anne's accent had changed. What was going on? Vance is better than that, I thought. I can be a bit slow sometimes. Then it dawned on me! Of course the voices were different. The characters were different, so why wouldn't the voices be different.
This is a different Cromwell from the one of humble beginnings as a blacksmith's son and then climbing the greasy power pole. Here, he is almost atop of the pole; at the height of his persuasive powers. Mocking Machiavelli as an amateur, avenging his patron and mentor's tormentors; reaping the ultimate revenge on each of the "four paws"and repaying the Queen's jealous dismissal of him in cold,calculating steel. Here is a man, a lawyer, a statesman to be reckoned with. And with that reckoning comes a new surety. He is starting to sound a bit more like Thomas More. He is behaving a bit more like a king. The stage is set now for the ultimate confrontation - king against king-maker. I really can't wait for the final chapter.
I loved the subtlety of this book. Maybe I'm reading too much into it and the change of voice. Maybe it is just a good yarn. But I don't think so. It's much, much better than that. In my opinion, a deserved second time winner of the Man-Booker. Readers of great books should not be disappointed.
Yes, factually interesting - want to keep reading, sorry it ended. Will read more Mantel books.
"Thomas Cromwell serving the court of Henry VIII"
Very well written, great story. The characters are well developed and believable.
The story picks up from where wolf hall ends, so it is worth reading both in sequence to enjoy the context.
However, by the end of the book I was ready for something lighter.
I would have liked the book to end with a final note on how life ended for Thomas Cromwell and his family but I guess that will likely be the next book.
Rich in detail and imagery, a good historical hit.
"At the royal court of Henry VIII"
A beautifully written evocation of life, politics and intrigue in the court of King Henry VIII as Anne Boleyn falls out of royal favour. A worthy Booker prize winner.
A more in-depth look at a particular passage of time from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.
The slow build-up to Anne's execution as she waits in the tower will live in my memory
Thomas Cromwell, consummate politician
"Better than Wolf Hall"
I enjoyed this 2nd book about Thomas Cromwell more than the first book as the author's writing of dialogue was clearer. Hilary Mantel deserved the Booker Prize for this one. She is able to transport you into the court of Henry the 8th and she knows how to flesh out her characters. The reader was fine. Highly recommended. I am looking forward to the final book in this trilogy.
"A worthu sequel to Wolfhall"
Accurate Fascinating Exciting
Execution of Anne Bolyn
First meeting with the jester who plays an old beggar and tricks Cromwell to employ him.
Buy it is a great read, particularly as there will be a further book in the trilogy.
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