Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

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Bring up the Bodies

It’s your lucky day, peeps, a two-for-one special on my book reviews!  I know.  What is better than one of sad, incompetent book reviews….why two of course! 

Today’s review is for Wolf Hall: A Novel and Bring Up the Bodies both by Hilary Mantel.

Let me preface this by saying that history and I do not get along. I struggled through it in high school and college. While it is interesting when I am reading about it, it does not stay with me. If there is a part of your brain that stores historical facts, mine is empty. That sound you are hearing is crickets chirping.

So, when I started seeing good reviews for Bringing Up the Bodies, and read that it was about Anne Boelyn, I thought it sounded interesting. I knew she got her head chopped off, and that was the extent of my knowledge. Then I read that it was a sequel to Wolf Hall, I decided I’d better refresh myself and start with Wolf Hall.

Wolf Hall is the story of Thomas Cromwell. The son of a blacksmith who worked his way into the good graces of King Henry VIII. He is a truly interesting character. He manipulated, worked his magic on everyone. He juggled cardinals, the King, the King’s men, women, everyone. Wolf Hall begins the King married to Catherine and ends with him married to Anne Boelyn. He is not happy with Anne since she has not provided him with a son.

Bringing up the Bodies begins with the King married to Anne Boelyn and ends with him married to Jane Seymour.

I have to admit that I knew none of the supporting characters (and there are a lot), really I didn’t know that much about the lead characters. So, half the time, I really didn’t know who was who. The list of characters on my Kindle book was 4 pages long, and broken into categories: The Cromwell Household, The Dead, The King’s Family, The King’s Other Family, The Howard and Boelyn Families, The Seymour Family of Wolf Hall, The Courtiers, The Clerics, The Officers of State, The Ambassadors, The Reformers, The “old Families” with Claims to the Throne, and At the Tower of London. Under each category is a list of characters. See what I mean? It’s confusing. So, I basically read it to get the gist of what was going on and focused on the main characters, not spending too much time on who was who.

The writing style is interesting, but at times difficult. Sometimes it is difficult to know who is talking. However the dialogue is good and easily understood, and the author uses it well to develop the characters.

I have mixed feelings, I enjoyed these books, though they are not my usual genre. If you are interested at all in history, I think you would find these very enjoyable.

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  1. says

    I watched The Tudors on DVD after the whole series was complete, and have to confess that there were so many people that it was confusing. What I do know about Henry VIII is that he was a redhead, so they should have dyed the actor’s hair. And that he liked to behead his wives when he was done with them. Sounds like these would be good books, when you have time to read slowly and quietly.

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