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Friday, June 29, 2012

Audiobook Review: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

bring up the bodies

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Unabridged, 14 hr. 35 min.
Macmillan Audio
Simon Vance (Narrator)
May 8, 2012
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Genre: Historical fiction (literary)

Source: Received from publisher for review as part of Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer Program

“The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?”

While I didn’t love the predecessor, Wolf Hall, I still wanted to give this book a try and chose the audio format because it was the only reason I was able to actually get through Wolf Hall. I actually liked this book more than the first, but it still is not a favorite and there are still problems that I had with this novel.

I was able to get into the events of the story more in this novel because there was action and intrigue happening at every turn. This story focuses primarily on the short period of time where Anne Boleyn gets caught up in the events that eventually bring about her downfall and ends shortly following the executions of Anne and her associates. These were familiar events that were easy to follow and I already knew the characters.

I found myself disliking Thomas Cromwell more and more as the book progressed. He just became a more despicable character to me as he gets more involved in Anne’s downfall. I am actually quite interested in seeing how she deals with the fall of Thomas Cromwell.

The nagging problem with pronouns was still prominent in this novel. I have read reviews that state that Mantel solves the issue some readers had (as I did) with the “he, he, he”. I found the solution to be just as aggravating as the problem. There is still a lot of “he, he, he”, however periodically there is now a “he, Cromwell” or “he, Henry”. I would prefer if they just went with “Cromwell” or “Henry” – just get rid of the “he”! It became just as frustrating with all of the “he, Cromwell” as it did with “he”.

Also, as with its predecessor, the ending was quite abrupt. It felt just like it ended in the middle of the thought. I would have appreciated a little more closure.

Overall, for me, this was a better read than Wolf Hall. This book can be read as a stand alone and I would recommend this over Wolf Hall any day.



The narrator did a fabulous job of portraying different characters, accents, female characters, etc. He was very easy to listen to and his characters fit with the personalities I had crafted in my head.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also check out the audiobook sample below:

You can also watch a discussion with the author about Bring Up the Bodies.

Reviews of this book by others: 

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Hilary Mantel:

wolf hall
Wolf Hall
[My Review]

the assassination of margaret thatcher
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Find Hilary Mantel: Website | Facebook

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Heather: Spot-on review. I agree - Mantel definitely did not solve the pronoun problem. I actually found "Bodies" solution even more distracting then the way she used pronouns in Wolf Hall.

    After reading glowing reviews about the breathtaking, suspenseful, incredible nature of the last 100 pages I was sorely disappointed. I didn't care about anyone and (though I'm a strong supporter of Anne Boleyn) I felt nothing when she died. Everything seemed removed, as if viewed through glass.

    I still love Mantel's ability to capture the perfect gritty detail that makes me feel like I'm in Tudor England but that wasn't enough to make this a best read for me.

    1. I did too find it to be just as distracting. And I have to agree with you about how the story was very removed from the action. I forgot to mention that in my review - this was the first novel where I didn't care one way or the other about Anne's death.

  2. Too bad you didn't enjoy this one more, Heather. I loved it, but then I also loved Wolf Hall. I think it's great that you were willing to give it a try even though you didn't enjoy Wolf Hall.

    Have you read any of her other novels? I'll soon be reading A Place of Greater Safety, which is about the French Revolution, and I've heard the writing style isn't the same as the one she used for Wolf Hall or Bring Up the Bodies.

    1. I haven't read any of her other books but I have occasionally read things online about A Place for Greater Safety. It was certainly an improvement over Wolf Hall, but not my favorite.

  3. I absolutely could not get through Wolf Hall (although you being able to get through it on audiobook gives me hope). I felt bad since so many people seemed to really enjoy the book. For that reason, I'm not so sure I'll be reading Bring Up the Bodies.

    1. I think it is really a book that people either really love or have a hard time getting though. There isn't much of a middle ground. I could not have read it in book format, that much I know for sure!

  4. I started to read Bring Up the Bodies, but decided to read Wolf Hall first. Hope to find them both again at the library.

    Marlene Detierro (Rogue River Fishing)


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