Friday, November 30, 2012

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Bring Up the Bodies is the second book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy and, like Wolf Hall, has won the Man Booker Prize. At this point in history, Cromwell must help King Henry rid himself of his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne has not given Henry the much-desired male heir and Henry is no longer infatuated with her beauty and intelligence. Instead Jane Seymour, a plain, shy young woman, the exact opposite of Anne, has caught his eye. Cromwell, in loyal service to his king, frees Henry from this queen by forcing five men to confess to adultery with her. Although Cromwell retains the calm and generous demeanor that served him so well in Wolf Hall, in this book he shows a more pragmatic and ruthless side. He uses this opportunity to exact revenge for previous wrongs and rid himself of some of his own enemies. But in Henry’s court, there are always more enemies lurking about, especially those loyal to Queen Katherine and her daughter, Mary. Thomas Cromwell is a man who has risen from very humble beginnings by serving a fickle and tyrannical king. He is bound to have many enemies and very few protectors in court. His position is always precarious. Anne’s execution earns Cromwell a title and additional wealth and power but little gratitude, even from those who benefited from his machinations.