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Wednesday, 2 August 2017


Bring Up the Bodies is a historical novel by Hilary Mantel and sequel to her award-winning Wolf Hall. It is the second part of a planned trilogy charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the powerful minister in the court of King Henry VIII. Bring Up the Bodies won the 2012 Man Booker Prize and the 2012 Costa Book of the Year. It is to be followed by The Mirror and the Light.


Bring Up the Bodies begins not long after the conclusion of Wolf Hall. The King and Thomas Cromwell, who is now Master Secretary to the King's Privy Council, are the guests of the Seymour family at their manor house, Wolf Hall. The King shares private moments with Jane Seymour, and begins to fall in love with her. His present queen, Anne Boleyn, has failed to give him a male heir. Their relationship is a stormy one, sometimes loving and sometimes characterized by angry quarrels. At length, the King tells Cromwell privately, "I cannot live as I have." Cromwell understands this to mean that the King has tired of a wife who gives him neither peace nor a son and wants his marriage to her ended. Cromwell promises the King he will find a legal way to make this happen.

Ever the dealmaker, Cromwell attempts to negotiate a voluntary dissolution of the marriage with Anne through her father, the Earl of Wiltshire, and her brother, Lord Rochford. Wiltshire is willing to negotiate, but Rochford is intransigent, telling Cromwell that if Anne and the King are reconciled, "I will make short work of you."

Cromwell makes inquiries among the ladies and gentlemen who are close to Anne and hears more and more rumors that she has been adulterous. The musician Mark Smeaton and Anne's sister-in-law, Lady Rochford, are particularly helpful in passing on rumors. He determines to build a case against Anne and succeeds in doing so, ultimately securing enough damaging testimony to have her arrested and tried on capital charges. The King seems quite willing to see Anne destroyed if it will serve his purposes. Always mindful that some of the people closest to Anne connived at the ruin of his old mentor Cardinal Wolsey, Cromwell relishes the opportunity to bring them down as well. In the end, Anne and several of her confidantes, including her brother, are tried and executed. Cromwell is aware that not all of the evidence against them is true, but he is willing to do what is necessary to serve the King (and to avenge Wolsey), and having started the process he must see it through if he himself is to survive. As the King focuses on a new marriage with Jane Seymour, Cromwell is rewarded for his efforts with a barony and his position as the King's chief adviser seems assured.

Download the book: Bring Up The Bodies.pdf

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