Genres: Historical Fiction
I don’t suppose this review will be a surprise if you read the Wolf Hall one. I absolutely loved this book. It follows the downfall of Anne Boleyn, and as Wolf Hall, through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who is under the favor of Henry VIII. The Boleyn family will not allow Anne to be replaced so easily and will use any power and influence they have to prevent it. At the same time, a shy, quiet girl catches the eye of the King: Jane Seymour.
Bring up the Bodies covers less years than Wolf Hall, which I personally found better, as it makes it easier to follow the story. I liked this one very much and practically devoured it. The schemes and lies of all families trying to get on the good side of a sanguine (to say the least) King are so well portrayed by the author, and she cares for detail so much that some students are taking her novel for fact. I cannot rave about this book enough. There is a reason this book is so hyped up. My favorite quote:
“There is a pause, while she turns the great pages of her volume of rage, and puts her finger on just the right word.”
The not so positive aspects of this book are the same as for Wolf Hall: it can be hard to get into the narration style, as Mantel uses “he” to talk about Cromwell, hardly referring to him by name and it can be quite confusing. I wish Wolf Hall had been shorter, but Bring up the Bodies has just the right length. I was quite new to historical fiction when I read this (funny considering how much I read the genre now and it’s one of my favorites), but this reverted any prejudices I had – so I can recommend it for those who don’t love the genre, too.
I hope Book #3 comes out soon!
Verdict: If you love historical novels and enjoy reading Tudor fiction, this one is definitely for you. I recommend it really to anyone, Mantel’s writing is brilliant and she makes a well-known topic (the Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII story) and makes it feel brand-new and intriguing. This sequence to Wolf Hall is ever better than the first book.