|Fourth Estate; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (10 May 2012)|
" You wait twenty years and two come along at once " - Hilary Mantel
Yesterday, Hilary Mantel became the first British author - and the first woman - to win the Man Booker Prize twice, and also the only author to win for two books in a series.
Read my review of Bring Up The Bodies
" His children are falling from the sky "
This worthy sequel to Wolf Hall begins in 1535, with the flying of falcons, which are ironically named after the dead female members of Thomas Cromwell’s family. Cromwell, now secretary to King Henry VIII is flying high; he has the eye and ear of the King and with wit, verve and perspicacity, Cromwell manipulates his way around Henry’s kingdom. Meanwhile,whilst Henry’s amour is focused on Wolf Hall and the quietly simpering Jane Seymour, the angular beauty of Anne Boleyn, no longer queen of Henry’s heart, waltzes shrew like down the corridors of power. However, he who seeks to serve the King must also pander to the whim of an increasingly belligerent and unfulfilled monarch. Never a shrinking violet, Cromwell, glides insidiously as a reptile, until he has gleaned the information he needs in order to keep Henry satisfied. For whatever Henry desires, he gets, even if it means the destruction of those around him, and as Cromwell begins to systematically prepare his case against Anne Boleyn and the men of her court, no stone will be left unturned, and no element of tortured pondering will go unnoticed.
Bring up the Bodies is written in vivid detail from Thomas Cromwell’s Machiavellian perspective, as with his legion of spies, he infiltrates the board rooms and bedrooms of those at the very epicentre of Tudor supremacy. Divided into two distinct parts, the story progresses from September 1535, through to summer 1536, and grows increasingly darker and more sinister as the story progresses. Even though Anne Boleyn’s eventual demise is widely known, it is Mantel’s unique angle on the construction of the case that creates such a vivid rendition of this story. In many respects Bring up the Bodies is much lighter editorially than Wolf Hall, yet the writing is just as demanding, however, occasionally Mantel goes off tangent, only to pull you back with an amazing turn of phrase, or sequence of events. I found myself going back and forth to re -read parts of the narrative, just because her phrasing is so good, and because I wanted to pick up on some hidden nuance that had previously gone unnoticed. Hilary Mantel has the uncanny ability to convey power, deception and intrigue in equal measure; her skill with words and her manipulation of the narrative is inspiring, and yet with quiet dignity, and meticulous research, she blends fact with fiction, and encourages the reader to watch as the accusations into Anne’s alleged adultery descend into tragedy.
Hilary Mantel has undoubtedly created a worthy sequel in Bring up the Bodies. The portrayal of Thomas Cromwell as a likeable and brilliant Tudor celebrity works incredibly well, and as always the Tudor court is displayed as a scheming hotchpotch of rivalry, intrigue and sexual mischief.
Mantel has provided a strong foundation for the culmination of this story in the third book in the trilogy.