Group Read: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (spoiler thread)

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Group Read: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (spoiler thread)

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1kidzdoc
maig 7, 2012, 12:47pm

This thread is for discussion of Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. The tentative start date for the thread is June 1; however, some may wish to start reading it right away, and others may wish to wait or may not receive their book until after this date. Please feel free to post comments about the book here, and please also restrict comments which may spoil the book for those who have not started it to this thread.

2catarina1
maig 8, 2012, 11:46am

Eagarly awaited. First thing this AM, turned my Kindle on and there it was. Only got a few pages read before work. Just as good.

3LizzieD
maig 14, 2012, 7:52pm

I'm a little over half through, and I love it. I don't think it's spoiling to say that I'm really enjoying the wit that flies among Cromwell and his household. I think that the boys were too young in *WH* to know what he, Cromwell, was dealing with. (?) I'll also note that "he, Cromwell" shows up every 50 pages or so. HM must have gotten a LOT of flack about not identifying speakers more clearly. AND I'm enjoying the contrast between sharp, witty Anne and literal-minded, almost simple Jane Seymour. I think I'll have to research to see if I can find out whether she truly was as dull as she comes across in this book.

4The_Hibernator
maig 24, 2012, 8:47am

I'm going to try joining...but I have to finish Wolf Hall first so I might be a little late. I'm sure I'll finish it in June though. :)

5gennyt
maig 24, 2012, 11:05am

I was going to wait for the paperback to come out, since I hardly ever buy new books, let alone hardbacks. Or at least wait until I could get it through my library and buy the paperback next year. But having gone to hear Mantel speak last Friday in London, and knowing she would be there signing copies afterwards, and seeing that the books were on sale at a 25% discount, and knowing that this like Wolf Hall would be one I'll definitely want to keep and re-read, I succumbed and bought the hardback. (I then, the next day, found a nice hardback copy of Wolf Hall so I've bought that in order to have a matching set).

So I'm ready to join in a read from 1st June; I may or may not start reading it before then.

6Deern
Editat: maig 28, 2012, 3:55pm

The Kindle price has been lowered a little, but still more than 15 USD and more than the hardback. I wonder if this is only my price because it hasn't been published in my country yet, so I have to pay sth extra for the rights issue? I'm sure I'll succumb very soon and get it. I'll follow the GR anyway.

Edit May 28th: as could be expected I succumbed as well... but I got the audiobook, I had some audible credits left.

I am just listening to chapter 2, so far it is great audio material. I got the free Kindle sample also which has all the family trees and character descriptions.

7June
juny 1, 2012, 10:49am

I just finished Part 1. Great! HM has the right balance in the plot with Cromwell interacting with his household (to give us a peek at his character) and events of state.

#3 Lizzie D

I noticed the he, Cromwells, too, when either would have been sufficient. Is she taking a stab at her complaining readers?

8gennyt
juny 1, 2012, 3:07pm

Is she taking a stab at her complaining readers? Yes - I heard her give a talk a couple of weeks ago, and she said that so many people had complained that they were confused in Wolf Hall about who 'he' was (not having worked out that unless she says otherwise, it is always Cromwell), that she decided to spell it out rather more this time - but now she has already had complaints that this is too much!

9Citizenjoyce
juny 1, 2012, 7:56pm

I don't think it's too much. Or rather, many of the times she uses "he, Cromwell" it's obvious who she means, but I was so put off by her ambiguous pronouns in Wolf Hall that I found the clarification pleasant.

10Cariola
juny 11, 2012, 3:14pm

I do think it's too much! I got used to just "he" in Wolf Hall and was not particularly confused. To me, "he, Cromwell," seems unnecessary, and I got irritated by it after awhile.

11The_Hibernator
juny 16, 2012, 5:31pm

I just started today! Looking pretty good so far...

12kidzdoc
juny 16, 2012, 11:13pm

My reading has fallen off dramatically this month due to work, so I haven't started it yet. I'll bring it with me to San Francisco next week, and read it then.

13Tigercrane
juny 18, 2012, 1:47pm

I wondered about the repeated "he, Cromwell" also, since when I read Wolf Hall I didn't have pronoun trouble. At first I thought Cromwell was getting rather big in the head. Then I decided the author must be doing it for clarification, which sounds like the reason.

14gennyt
juny 18, 2012, 2:00pm

Just got started at last - enjoyed the first 10 or so pages which was all I had time for this morning.

15The_Hibernator
juny 18, 2012, 3:11pm

>13 Tigercrane: I think Cromwell IS getting a bit big in the head in this book, but I don't think that's the reason for the "he, Cromwell." Though now that you say it that way, it does kind of add to the character development. :)

16The_Hibernator
juny 21, 2012, 6:32pm

I've finished! It was fantastic. Most reviews I've read suggest that Bring up the Bodies isn't as good as Wolf Hall, and I'm not sure what their reason for that was...it was certainly not as heavy reading as Wolf Hall, so maybe they felt that some of the lyricism was lost. It also developed Cromwell's character in such a way that people may not have liked him as much, but I think that was necessary. Overall, I think it was a good follow-up.

17Citizenjoyce
juny 21, 2012, 9:01pm

Not being British, I knew very little about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII etc., so I was surprised to find Cromwell quite a bit less likable in this book. From what I've read since, he seems to have a reputation of being much more bloodthirsty than Mantel portrays. He is though, starting to grab a hold of some of that vengeance that I guess he was famous for. I find him very believable, as I do all her characters. One of my favorite parts of the book was his statement that he thought Henry found Jane Seymour attractive because he assumed she was stupid. That's just perfect, he'd had enough of clever scheming women, but one gets glimpses that perhaps Jane has a little more going on mentally than she's willing to show.

18The_Hibernator
juny 22, 2012, 6:57am

but one gets glimpses that perhaps Jane has a little more going on mentally than she's willing to show
Definately. She's just more subtle about it, which makes her more dangerous. ;)

I was surprised at how likable Cromwell was in the first book. It didn't seem realistic to me. But perhaps Mantel is suggesting that although he was always a strategist, he wasn't always bloodthirsty.

19Cariola
juny 22, 2012, 10:32am

18> Ah, but she gave us a tipoff in Wolf Hall when Gregory says his father looks like a murderer in his portrait. I think that in the first book she was trying to give some psychological insight into why Cromwell ended up as he did which made him seem more sympathetic.

20gennyt
juny 22, 2012, 2:15pm

I'm less than half way through so far, and not yet finding him less likeable. I think part of what made him likeable in Wolf Hall was the way she portrayed his domestic life, both his love for his wife and children (and grief at their loss) and his tendency to adopt so many waifs and strays. Those characteristics continue thus far in Bring up the Bodies, and give another side to his character than we get from his role as Master Secretary. But there is also a connection perhaps between these strong family loyalties, which extend to his old father-figure Wolsey, and the steps he is prepared to take to protect/avenge. The early scene where his son and nephew (I think) are flattening an imaginary courtier who has insulted the dead memory of Cromwell's daughters seems like a foreshadowing of some of the real violence to come.

I love how she portrays the precariousness of his position after the King's fall at the joust.

When I heard Mantel speak a few weeks ago, she said something about how she portrayed Jane Seymour, along the lines that she envisaged her as one of those women who is good at letting people think she is stupid, but actually is quite on the ball.

I'm loving the humour, and the wonderful turns of phrase. If I was reading on a Kindle, I'd be highlighting like mad, as it is I just hope I'll remember some of the passages to find them again..

21ElenaDanielson
nov. 8, 2014, 1:24pm

Gosh I'm two years late with this! But I loved Hilary Mantel's writing. Her vocabulary alone justifies the Booker Prize. ("Subfusc"? had to look it up.) The basic historical facts are known, but Mantel supplies the motivation by getting inside Thomas Cromwell's thinking. She is honest enough to say her version is just one solution to connecting the dots. It is not clear to me whether the King abolished the Roman church in England in order to get a divorce and remarry, or whether the divorce was a handy excuse for Cromwell to seize church property and provide a financial and legal basis for the British state. Either way Cromwell had to be capable of murder, which he apparently was as a young man to survive, and then was willing to kill by "legal" means to succeed as a court figure. The scene where he, Cromwell, elicits testimony and gossip from the ladies in waiting to vilify Anne is chilling. He serves fine cakes to keep them talking, and they lick their fingers between slanders. It does seem that Anne's execution is necessary as a sacrificial lamb in order to do away with troublesome courtiers. In the end, as everyone knows, Cromwell is engulfed by his own intrigues, but apparently the legal and financial structures he put in place were enduring and provided a firm foundation for nation building. That is some legacy. I had to google the Hans Holbein portraits, so wish they had been provided in the paperback book. Holdbein seems to know Cromwell's character, both the dangerous look in his eye, and his firm grip on legal documents, land deeds, financial assets that endured after he was gone.