‘Bring Up The Bodies’ continues on from ‘Wolf Hall’ in the story of Thomas Cromwell, one of King Henry VIII’s closest advisers. The third book in the trilogy – ‘The Mirror and the Light’ is planned for release in 2013/2014. Each book provides a snapshot of a period of Tudor England, so they don’t necessarily need to be read as a series, although I found the life of the young Thomas Cromwell in ‘Wolf Hall’ to be a great place to start.
In this novel, the tension is starting to build between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as she continues to fail in producing a son and heir. The general population of England (not to mention the rest of Europe) have never accepted Anne as the true Queen – seeing her rather as the whore who ensnared Henry. As Henry starts to lose his infatuation with Anne, he begins to see her as others do and asks Thomas Cromwell to work on bringing about her demise. Henry has already chosen the demure, virginal Jane Seymour as his future Queen and she couldn’t be more different from Anne Boleyn.
The ruthless and manipulative Thomas Cromwell doesn’t have too much difficulty bringing about Anne’s downfall, along with several others that he and the King would like to be rid of. I suppose we’ll never really know what charges were true and what were concocted.
As Cromwell sets about destroying others, he is starting to realise that it may only be a matter of time before someone does the same to him.
This book was another excellent portrayal of life in King Henry VIII’s court. One of my main complaints about ‘Wolf Hall’ was that it was difficult to keep track of which character was speaking so I often had to backtrack to work out what was going on. Hilary Mantel has mostly solved this problem in this book.
This is still a huge read, but if you like getting into the minutiae of Tudor life, it is enjoyable. I’m keenly awaiting the third instalment of the trilogy – ‘The Mirror and the Light’.
Book Published 2012