Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Picking up right where her Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall left off, Bring Up the Bodies is the second novel of a planned trilogy by Hilary Mantel centered on the court of King Henry VIII and, in particular, his chief minister Thomas Cromwell. The book was long-listed for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
Reviewer: Michael Schaub
"Like its predecessor, Bring Up the Bodies is unremittingly exciting. Even though you probably know how the story ends, it's hard — almost painful — to stop reading. But it's not just the plotting that is stand-out. More than any other novel she's written, Mantel's latest overflows with stunning prose....Bring Up the Bodies isn't just her boldest book; it's also her best — and it reaffirms Mantel's reputation as one of England's greatest living novelists."
"Bring Up the Bodies succeeds brilliantly in every particle of this: it’s an imaginative achievement to exhaust superlatives....I finished the book lost in pleasure and admiration for the mind that made it. I wonder what will happen next."
Reviewer: Wendy Smith
"The pleasures of “Bring Up the Bodies” — and they are abundant, albeit severe — reside in Mantel’s artistic mastery. She animates history with a political and psychological acuity equal to Tolstoy’s in “War and Peace” (and she might have the edge on Count Leo in politics)."
Reviewer: Gavriel Kay
"Excellence is rare, it is a reason why we value it so much. Whatever hesitations a reader might have in terms of his or her ability to judge the validity of Mantel’s “proposal” as to the real people and events of a darkly shaded time, the telling of her tale is masterful."
Reviewer: Frances Wilson
"Is Bring Up the Bodies better than, worse than or equal to Wolf Hall? While lacking, necessarily, the shocking freshness of the first book, it is narrower, tighter, at times a more brilliant and terrifying novel."
Reviewer: Josh Zajdman
"With wit, daring style, and a staggering breadth of historical knowledge, Mantel breathes new life into reclaimed territory....With her incisive, complex, and intriguingly stylized prose, Mantel has done the seemingly impossible and relumed the lives of Henry Tudor and his court."
Reviewer: Janet Maslin
"“Bring Up the Bodies” is beautifully constructed, even though there will be moments when it seems confusing....The wonder of Ms. Mantel’s retelling is that she makes these events fresh and terrifying all over again."
Reviewer: Martin Rubin
""Bring Up the Bodies" stands magnificently on its own. And such is her skill, her delicate touch, that for those who have read the earlier book, these references serve equally to remind, to reinforce her points. Whether you have read "Wolf Hall" or not, "Bring Up the Bodies" will make you long for that next one, which will complete — or will it? — Mantel's Cromwell trilogy."
Reviewer: Bettany Hughes
"My one reservation is also a backhanded compliment. Many moments are so acutely observed, and Cromwell’s passage through court and country so rapid, you feel as though you are reading a dream."
Reviewer: William Georgiades
"Only a writer of Mantel’s abilities could be criticized for writing a merely brilliant novel, rather than another outright masterpiece. It is the scope that feels limited, the weeks in the novel as opposed to the years in the first....That is the worst that can be said about Mantel—her latest book makes you angry, because you want more."
Reviewer: Peter Green
"As both her Tudor novels demonstrate on every page, Mantel practices what she preaches, and the result draws you in, irresistibly, to the intense and dangerously competitive life of Henry’s court."
Reviewer: Steve Donoghue
"Ms. Mantel's greatest achievement is one of style: the tone of irresistible slangy immediacy that is the engine of her book....Ms. Mantel everywhere displays an easy ability to show us characters' depths in quick flashes...It's an almost photographic concision employed in virtually no other historical fiction currently being written..."
Reviewer: James Wood
"“Bring Up the Bodies” lolls a bit in its midsection (and perhaps suffers merely on account of coming after the extraordinary freshness of “Wolf Hall”), but becomes menacingly narrow in its last third, as Thomas Cromwell dresses his victims in careful accusation."
Reviewer: Charles McGrath
"“Bring Up the Bodies”...isn’t nostalgic, exactly, but it’s astringent and purifying, stripping away the cobwebs and varnish of history, the antique formulations and brocaded sentimentality of costume-drama novels, so that the English past comes to seem like something vivid, strange and brand new."
Reviewer: Laura Miller
"Of all the many fictional depictions of the moral quandaries involved in the exercise of great power, this may be one of the most disturbing. It comes much closer than any I’ve ever encountered to letting you know how it must feel to manage the fate of a nation: how intoxicating and how very, very perilous."
Reviewer: Margaret Atwood
"Mantel sometimes overshares, but literary invention does not fail her: she's as deft and verbally adroit as ever."
Reviewer: Alan Cheuse
"You'll immediately recognize how much better fiction does at re-creating the feel of the English seasons, and how with such ease it can take us into the minds of the main characters, something films almost never do....swiftly moving and entertaining, erudite and educational new work of historical fiction by Mantel."
Reviewer: Yvonne Zipp
"Readers know exactly where the plot is heading, and Henry VIII’s love life has been so thoroughly picked over, it’s hard to imagine there being anything fresh left to say. But Mantel manages handily. “Bringing Up the Bodies” is a worthy successor to “Wolf Hall.”"
Reviewer: Jane Hu
"This is how Mantel cultivates suspense: her readers know the ending, but her protagonist does not. The view from inside Cromwell’s head is sometimes oppressive, but it’s also what holds readers close to him, driving their sympathies as they move alongside him."