Posted by: Jeanie F | April 18, 2012

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

I hate to be fickle – and I REALLY hate abandoning a book that I’m enjoying – but I’m about to switch horses (books) in mid-stream. Just as I’m getting to the part in Cleopatra where she and Mark Antony meet up, what should arrive in the mail but an advance copy of Hilary Mantel’s (author of 2009 Man Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall) new novel, Bringing Up the Bodies. I’m a complete sucker for the Tudors, and the story of poor Anne Boleyn, the subject of this novel, fascinates me. I’m still hundreds of pages from finishing Cleopatra, but I just can’t wait to jump into Mantel’s new book, particularly because her use of Thomas Cromwell’s point of view brings a fresh – and sinister – perspective.

Here’s an excerpt:

His relations with the queen as the summer draws to its official end are chary, uncertain, and fraught with distrust. Anne Boleyn is now thirty-four years old, a dark woman with a refinement that makes mere prettiness seem redundant. Once sinuous, she has become angular. She retains her dark glitter, now rubbed a little, flaking in places. Her prominent dark eyes she uses to good effect, and in this fashion: she glances at a man’s face, then her regard flits away, as if unconcerned, indifferent. There is a pause: as it might be, a breath. Then slowly, as if compelled, she turns her gaze back to him. Her eyes rest on his face. She examines this man. She examines him as if he is the only man in the world. She looks as if she is seeing him for the first time and considering all sorts of uses for him, all sorts of possibilities, which he has not even thought of himself. To her victim the moment seems to last an age, during which shivers run up his spine. Though in fact the trick is quick, cheap, effective, and repeatable, it seems to the poor fellow that he is now distinguished among all men. He smirks. He preens himself. He grows a little taller. He grows a little more foolish.

Tantalizing, isn’t it? I rarely accept publisher offers of advanced copies for review, because (1) they are often in genres such as fantasy, which I don’t read and (2) I don’t want to feel beholden to write a positive review if I don’t like a book. Because I enjoyed Wolf Hall so much, I accepted this offer immediately. I won’t tell you I like it if I don’t, but I anticipate this won’t be a problem.

I’ll get back to Cleopatra soon, I promise!


  1. I’m green with envy. Can’t wait until my pre-ordered copy arrives in May.

    • I started it yesterday and am completely hooked! One thing I like already is that Mantel seems to have worked out the pronoun confusion that people complained about in Wolf Hall. Please let me know what you think about the book!

      • I thought Mantel was very clear. “He” always meant Cromwell, unless she specifically stated something like “he, Wolsey,” did something or other. Whenever I’ve recommended the book, I tell them just that, and so far no one has had a problem. I loved the book so much I read, then listened to the audible version, and now I’m rereading it to fill the time until the next book comes out.

      • I didn’t have a problem with it, either, but it was a complaint a lot of reviewers and bloggers seemed to have. I’m impressed – you’re a true fan. Have you read other works of Mantel’s?

      • Not yet. At the moment I am completely wrapped up in Game of Thrones: ebooks, audible books and first season DVDs. What can I say – I’m a sucker for epic stories.

  2. Wow – I forgot this was coming. Thanks for the reminder. I liked Wolf Hall and am looking forward to reading her new book – wonder whether I can get it. Enjoy the read.

    • Amazon shows it being released on May 8. I hope to get it finished this week. So far, I think it’s great!

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