Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Light ON "Bring up the Bodies"

We’re starting a new feature on our blog that just might keep you up at night. Book Light will illuminate the reading materials that we just cannot put down, even if it means losing a little sleep. We apologize for any rough mornings our recommendations might cause!

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Let me start by saying, I am obsessed with the Tudors. But even if I wasn’t, I still would not be able to put down 2012 Man Booker Prize winner Bring up the Bodies. It seriously doesn’t even matter if you’ve read Mantel’s Wolf Hall, the stunning predecessor to Bring up the Bodies, which also won a Man Booker; jumping into this historical fiction account of the downfall of Anne Boleyn is enthralling, and the story is so well known that it hardly needs an introduction (but indulge me, because I’ll give you a little of it anyway).

In failing to give Henry VIII a male heir and having a notoriously high-and-mighty personality with a sharp tongue to boot, the doomed Queen Anne has quickly worn out her welcome. When the king takes a keen interest in the lady Jane Seymour, he quickly (and mercilessly) makes it Thomas Cromwell’s job to bring Anne down, and boy, does he know how to do it. Accused of countless acts of adultery, treason, and the unspeakable crime of incest, Anne finds herself fighting not just for the king’s favor, but for her life. We all know how this story ends (SPOILER ALERT: she crashes and burns on an epic level), but that doesn’t make the trip there any less suspenseful. Though the history is familiar, the eyes through which we see it are not. The awesome twist in both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies is that they offer a fresh, fascinatingly foreign take on the timeless Tudor scandals. By retelling the story through Cromwell, an actual man who served as a powerful adviser to the king, Mantel makes a well-known tale as fresh and raw as it’s ever been. Even better, she recreates Cromwell in a more sympathetic light than historical sources have typically done, so we see how very much he has gained and understand how much he has to lose.

Bring up the Bodies is the second book of the planned Wolf Hall trilogy. Mantel is working on The Mirror & the Light, which will inevitably end the tale of Cromwell's rise to power with his bloody downfall. I know it's coming, but I've grown so fond of him over the first two books of the trilogy that I already dread the thought of his demise. 

Bring up the Bodies is available throughout our library system in hardcover, large-print hardcover, audio book, and MP3 playaway. And I know I said you don’t have to have read Wolf Hall to enjoy Bring up the Bodies, but both books are awesome, so don’t hesitate to pick up the pair. Wolf Hall is available throughout our system in hardcover, large-print hardcover, and audio book (both CD and eAudio formats).

-Abby, Reference Librarian

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