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Bring up the Bodies-Hilary Mantel

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Ash
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Post by Ash » Wed May 16th, 2012, 12:14 am

Not everyone finds it difficult; those who don't have any background in Tudor history are going to have problems, and people who aren't used to unusual narrative structures might (she uses lots of 'he said' without using the proper noun, but you learn quickly that 'he' usually refers to Cromwell) There are also lots of characters, but the way she lists them - by where they are located rather than by families - really made it easier to deal with, at least for me. Loved the book, have read it about three or four times now (two for book groups) and became more impressed by her writing abilities with each reread.

Now reading Bring up the Bodies and while I don't like it as much, it is working for me and I am enjoying the read. In answer to 'what more can she write about' - there was much happening between the time the King started tiring of her, and the time of her execution. The third one is supposed to be about Cromwell's actual fall.

I think this book will be difficult to follow if you haven't read the first. There is much family history and interactions here that won't make as much sense, or at least wont have the impact, if you haven't read WH. But thats just me.
Last edited by Ash on Wed May 16th, 2012, 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kasthu
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Post by Kasthu » Sun May 20th, 2012, 12:42 am

I managed to snag a copy through Amazon Vine, and Oh. My Gosh. was it fantastic. Yes, the use of pronouns can difficult to get through, especially with Wolf Hall. But Mantel is better at delineating it in Bring Up the Bodies (saying, for example, "he, Cromwell, said..."). Therefore, my reading of BUTB went a lot faster (it's also a shorter book).

But also understand that both are novels ABOUT Cromwell, not just Henry or Anne or any of the other characters in the book. When I reviewed the book, I focused more on aspects of Cromwell's fascinating character rather than the plot (which you can get from any other novel, anyways). It's how Mantel tells the story that's so appealing.

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Post by annis » Sun May 20th, 2012, 1:02 am

Just listened to an excellent interview this Saturday past (19th May) - NZ radio host Kim Hill discusses Thomas Cromwell and Bringing Up the Bodies with Hilary Mantel. A bit of time and patience is needed as the interview is quite extensive and goes on for about half an hour.

For anyone interested it can be heard as an audio stream or through various download options at the Radio NZ website here - scroll down the 11.05 a.m listing, Hilary Mantel, Thoms Cromwell Revisited

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday

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Post by SGM » Sun May 20th, 2012, 6:05 am

[quote=""Brenna""]I finished Wolf Hall last night. By the end, the King is already over Anne-how can this possibly go on for another two books? They will be library reads for me I think.[/quote]

Thomas Cromwell was so important to the reform and development of English government that anything to do with Henry's marital difficulties is almost a side issue.

His model of the Privy Council although ignored by EVI and M was in place for most of Elizabeth's reign which she used to great advantage. He was really the guiding force behind the integration of Wales into Henry's political system. It does him a real disservice to see him only in the light of the Anne Boleyn affair even if Henry's divorces/marriages were a catalyst for his career. I am estactic to have a novel to read that goes beyond. The Reformation Parliament was crucial to the development of English government. Elizabeth knew it and used it even if it took her two predecessors a while to get it and took too long to use it.

Unfortunately, I really really don't enjoy the whole present-tense aspect of the novel. I like even less than stream-of-consciousness -- but that is my problem, not a problem with Mantel's writing. But my hat off to her -- for once we have a writer who does understand the politics of the time and there are few of those about, at least of the ones I have read recently.
Last edited by SGM on Sun May 20th, 2012, 6:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ash
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Post by Ash » Sun May 20th, 2012, 3:18 pm

Took me a moment to realize who EVI and M were - Edward VI and Mary. The former was under regency for a long time, I don't think he could have used the council if he wanted to. Mary was all about revenge, the council would have met nothing to her. (What a sad life she lead. I'd love to read a decent novel about her, one that looks gives her more complexity than some other writings that have come out.)

Just finished this book - I liked it, but not as much as the first. Nothing to do with the writing, or the way its structured. Probably due to the subject matter, there just wasn't as much wit in this one. I did find it interesting that my like of Cromwell from the first changes about midway through this one when I really see his arrogance and machinations, and why so many people hated him. He was the judge, jury and executioner no matter what he says about the jury and the fair trial. Im going to enjoy reading what happens to him in the next book, I think!

One thing Mantel continues to do is build on the relationships Cromwell has with the young men in his charge - his son, nephew, foster son and protegue. I love how he is a father and mentor to them, and I love how they are starting to question what they are seeing in this man they adore.
Last edited by Ash on Sun May 20th, 2012, 3:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

SGM
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Post by SGM » Sun May 20th, 2012, 4:40 pm

[quote=""Ash""]Took me a moment to realize who EVI and M were - Edward VI and Mary. The former was under regency for a long time, I don't think he could have used the council if he wanted to. Mary was all about revenge, the council would have met nothing to her. [/quote]

OK, my error in phrasing -- EVI's regents needed to care about the Council and might have survived longer if they had used it better. Mary did realise its importance (after all she needed it to govern the country) but she had a lot of people to say thank you to so.....used it differently. Several constitutional issues were settled during the Reformation Parliament which are still of fundamental importance to day -- not least of which were primacy of Parliamentary Statute and where sovereignty resided.

Elizabeth followed Cromwell's lead as much as she could and used the Privy Council to good and efficient effect.
Last edited by SGM on Sun May 20th, 2012, 5:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Manda Scott » Mon May 21st, 2012, 12:47 pm

No, but it's told in a very intense third person (actually, yes, there are parts without quotation marks).

I think it depends on how you read. If you read words on a page and look at them visually as words, then I imagine it's hard. If you either hear it as a spoken voice in your head, or the words become images and the images move together into one seemless movie, then it makes complete sense and isn't hard at all.

I think those of us who play movies and/or hear the voice forget that there are a lot of people for whom the words are still words. It's not a criticism, but I think most writers, by the nature of the work, fall into the former category.

I once hosted a panel at a literary conference on the magic of making black marks on a white page into a movie that runs in different peoples' heads and only one of the panelists failed to understand that. For me, it was obvious that we all take the movie in our heads and turn it into words and other people then turn it back into a movie. For this author (as far as I know, she has only written one book), the words were always words and the 'movie' analogy made no sense.

each to her own... but HM reads better, I think, if you're not parsing the words, but are following the flow.
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Post by Madeleine » Mon May 21st, 2012, 1:27 pm

Interesting point Manda; I "see" the movie when I'm reading; I haven't read Wolf Hall or Bodies, so will bear that in mind, although I'll always see James Frain from the Tudors as TC! But I think visualizing always helps.
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Post by rebecca » Fri May 25th, 2012, 2:26 am

I am now 3/4 of the way through 'Bring up the Bodies' and with much surprise I truly love it! By including the 'he, Cromwell' has made all the difference, it flows much easier(at least for me). It is a book though where one has to concentrate and allow few distractions(in other words I turn the TV off when I read it). I also love how she has included Cromwell's home life, making him a more rounded individual, but she never loses track of who he is, utterly ruthless to those who seek to destroy him or stand in his way.

I'm going to be sorry to finish it, but will look forward to the third and final book on Cromwell.

Bec :)

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Post by Margaret » Fri May 25th, 2012, 4:24 am

Just finished it and liked it very much. It doesn't have quite the freshness of Wolf Hall, but that's only because Wolf Hall was so outstandingly so. No sequel could have the same effect after reading Wolf Hall. I, too, am looking forward to the third volume.
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