ClassicBring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel


I have previously written about Wolf Hall, meeting and watching Mantel’s plays with the author herself and how our love of these books brought Sophie and I together, but Bring Up The Bodies might be my favourite book of all time.

This one is profoundly important to me as I can trace my family tree to when Oliver Cromwell (Thomas’s great great grand nephew) allowed Jews back into England in the 1660s. If Thomas had not risen from the son of a blacksmith to Baron Cromwell I would not be here. 

Yesterday I visited the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty, Pembroke Castle, where Henry VII was born and fortuitously I had my battered copy in the car ready for a #bookstagram shot from the lake. It’s really never not by my side. 

I go back to certain passages regularly and there are so many lines I have taken into my very soul (Cromwell’s “arrange your face” mantra when dealing with the capricious aggressive Henry VIII is one I think of all the time in stressful work situations or in court). 

This is the pinnacle of historical fiction for me. You are not weighted down by detail and description, the character development is at the beating heart of this book. Hilary Mantel is able to vividly create people so lifelike you understand their glances and sighs like you would your parents, siblings or spouse.

The pure genius of Mantel is her ability to build suspense into a plot that bears no surprises. To see the political intrigue and logistic brilliance, to see the changes to British history unfold with the texture and nuance she brings never ceases to take my breath away.

This could be any Netflix drama. There is banter, there is scandal in a masterpiece of epic proportions. In the ultimate rags to riches story, we see Anne Boleyn rise and fall whilst Cromwell continues to flourish against all odds. He is my favourite literary character and I will never stop rereading this prize winning book.

~ Chaya

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