Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel Review

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel charts the political exploits of Thomas Cromwell, right-hand man to King Henry VIII.  In contrast to Mantel’s Man Booker Prize winning novel Wolf Hall—which begins in Cromwell’s childhood and ends well into his middle age—her follow-up novel takes place within the few years of Anne Boleyn’s reign as Queen of England.  Cromwell created many enemies during his rapid rise in the service of the King, and he schemes throughout the novel to maintain his position, secure his future, and bring down his enemies.

Some readers may be familiar with other portrayals of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas Cromwell, but Mantel’s perspective on Tudor England is refreshing and unique.  Thomas Cromwell—a villain in many depictions—is portrayed as an honest, hard-working underdog in Bring Up the Bodies.  Cromwell observes: “The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really.  Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.”  In many ways, Cromwell’s optimism and distinctive perspective temper his connivances; and the reader cannot help but root for him.

Additionally, Bring Up the Bodies raises interesting questions concerning the way historical events are remembered and retold.  “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.”  This observation applies just as well to Cromwell’s political dealings and may be viewed as one of the novel’s unifying themes.  As a work of historical fiction, Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies is so convincing that it is further evidence of the border between truth and lies.

Even though I knew how the novel would end, I was often surprised by the twists and turns it took.  More than anything else, I think Bring Up the Bodies simply displays fantastic writing.  The characters are well-developed, and the story is perfectly crafted.  Bring Up the Bodies is a must read whether or not you consider yourself a fan of historical fiction.

You can read an excerpt here.

Rating:   (many allusions to sex, including incest, but passages are not descriptive)

Title:  Bring Up the Bodies

Author:  Hilary Mantel

Format:  Hardbound

Page Nos.:  432

ISBN:  978-0805090031

Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co.

Release Date:  May 8, 2012

Reviewer:  Preston Gardner

Wednesday Words: Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

“Finally one said, “It’s astonishing. Frankly astonishing. The man has actually got charisn’tma.”

“Your meaning?”

“I mean he’s so dreadful he fascinates people. Like those stories he was telling…did you notice how people kept encouraging him because they couldn’t actually believe anyone would tell jokes like that in mixed company?”

“My point is that, in some strange way, he attracts people.”

“Like a public hanging.”

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale Review

Miri is engulfed in a much larger problem in Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale than she could have even imagined! After she is sent an invitation from Princess Britta to the royal wedding, she can’t help but imagine the wonders of Asland and her journey from Mount Eskel. To make Miri’s adventures perfect, Britta has managed to get Miri into the Queen’s University so that Miri can learn even more! Peder also is invited to join the journey so he can become an apprentice to a stone carver in the city. With him busy apprenticing; Miri makes friends with some students from the University, including one very good looking Timon seeking to make a difference. There is an angry stir from the people towards royalty when Miri and the others arrive and they find themselves in the midst of something much bigger than any of them could have realized! Revolution is a word spoken of on quiet evenings and assignations are continually being planned against the royalty. Can Miri make a difference by taking a stand or will her efforts be ignored? Will Miri be taken in by the beauty of the city and stay forever or will she return to where she was raised on Mount Eskel?

I liked this book because I was always interested in Miri’s story and wondering what happened between her and Peder. I usually don’t care very much for books about revolution against royalty and things like that, but this book was very good because of the point of view it took. I really liked how Miri could see both sides in the revolution! It was interesting to watch the story unfold and to see how Miri changed with each letter to her sister and watching her indecision about many important things. I also enjoyed watching her and Peder’s relationship change, as well as the new one formed between Miri and Timon. I was very happy with the ending of this book and would definitely recommend it to everyone!

You can read an excerpt here.

Princess Academy Reading Order:

Princess Academy

Palace of Stone 

Rating: 

Content: 

Title: Palace of Stone

Author: Shannon Hale

Format: Hardcover, eBook

Page Nos.: 336

ISBN: 978-1599908731

Release Date:  August 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Reviewer: Jillian

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher r via NetGalley but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.