I have been sick with excitement and anticipation about it for weeks but finally Bring Up the Bodies Day dawns, let the nation rejoice and sing for joy, though Anne Boleyn might see it all slightly differently.
‘My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he’ll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he’ll cut off your leg,’ says Walter Cromwell in the year 1500. ‘But if you don’t cut across him he’s a very gentleman. And he’ll stand anyone a drink.’
By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.
In ‘Bring up the Bodies’, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Wolf Hall’, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is a speaking picture, an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.
An informative interview here too in which Hilary Mantel reveals more of her secrets...
“What I was trying to do,” Mantel explains, “is recreate the process by which memory does overtake us. In novels, people stop and ‘have a memory’ – but that’s not how it works in life. It’s some sensory trigger that sparks the memory off.” Where historical novels can often fall short, Mantel finds, is in the creation of interiority. “Characterisation can often be complex but not deep, and I wanted to do something different in these books. I did want to get some sense of the narrative growing from the inside, and of us being behind Cromwell’s eyes – the idea of how a memory interpenetrates the events of today is really part of that.”
And don't miss Hilary Mantel's favourite books about the Tudors here.