Although I am rather behind the times on this one, the book being published back in 2012, I could not resist the opportunity to rave about my new bookshelf stable. Bring Up The Bodies is the delicious, addictive tale of Thomas Cromwell’s career in Tudor England. Hilary Mantel achieves something truly remarkable with this story, as she manages to de familiarise the known story of Anne Boleyn’s demise. Written in a sharp prose, Mantel’s novel takes history and jolts it into the twenty-first century with verve. Conducted predominantly in the present text, we are taken through the political upheaval and steady decline of Henry VIII’s marriage to his concubine. We understand Cromwell as ruthless politician, loyal advisor and caring father who places maintaining the Kingdom above all things.
Both Anne and Henry are humanised in this portrayal that rejects sentimental and nostalgic views of the King and Queen of England. Henry is a weak and frail man, a far cry from the red-haired brute we are used to in contemporary films. Anne, on the other hand, is not the innocent, unassuming figure she has been represented. She is a cruel, calculating woman that acts like a child throughout her demise. The dialogue between the characters feels incredibly vibrant and real, as Mantel makes a distant history seem very personal. The emphasis placed on dialogue and the use of present tense makes this novel a very fast read, regardless of its 432 pages. We are not weighed down by excessive reference to dates and historical details, as is the case in many novels of this genre. Instead Mantel offers us a rich and beautiful language which once again shows she is at the top of her game. A fantastic tale and one you should certainly read!
by Nicola Borasinski
(Image from: http://relishreads.com/2013/05/22/bring-up-the-bodies/)