Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2012 Costa Winner

Bringing Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

       
 

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Length: 432 pages

About: Thomas Cromwell removes Anne Boleyn

Style: 3rd person

Where: England

When: 1500s

 

 

Publisher’s synopsis:

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell is Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes having risen with those of Anne Boleyn, the king's new wife. But Anne has failed to give the king an heir, and Cromwell watches as Henry falls for plain Jane Seymour. Cromwell must find a solution that will satisfy Henry, safeguard the nation and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge unscathed from the bloody theatre of Anne's final days. An astounding literary accomplishment, 'Bring Up the Bodies' is the story of this most terrifying moment of history, by one of our greatest living novelists.

 

Extract:

As they dismount, handing their horses to the grooms and waiting on the king, his mind is already moving to paperwork: to dispatches from Whitehall, galloped down by the post routes that are laid wherever the court shifts. At supper with the Seymours, he will defer to any stories his hosts wish to tell: to anything the king may venture, tousled and happy and amiable as he seems tonight. When the king has gone to bed, his working night will begin.

 

Reviews:

Good:

This is a bloody story about the death of Anne Boleyn, but Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her power of prose to create moral ambiguity and the real uncertainty of political life…She has recast the most essential period of our modern English history; we have the greatest modern English prose writer reviving possibly one of the best known pieces of English history’ Sir Peter Stothard, Chair of the judges for the Man Booker Prize 2012
‘BRING UP THE BODIES is simply exceptional…I envy anyone who hasn’t yet read it’

Sandra Parsons, Daily Mail

 

 

Not so good:

 

...My one reservation is also a backhanded compliment. Many moments are so acutely observed, and Cromwell’s passage through court and country so rapid, you feel as though you are reading a dream. One highly vivid scene segues, sometimes surprisingly, into a different location, a different set of characters. Perhaps this was intentional; our flitting mortality amplified....

Bettany Hughes, The Daily Telegraph 28 May 2012

 

About the author

 

Born 6 July 1952 in Glossop, Derbyshire, the eldest of three children, and raised in the mill village of Hadfield, attending St Charles local Roman Catholic primary school. Her parents, Margaret and Henry Thompson, both of Irish descent, were also born in England.Her parents separated and she did not see her father after age eleven. The family minus her father, but with Jack Mantel (1932-1995) who by now had moved in with them, relocated to Romiley, Cheshire, and Jack became her unofficial stepfather. She took her de-facto stepfather's surname legally. She attended Harrytown Convent in Romiley, Cheshire.

 

 In 1970 she began her studies at the London School of Economics to read law. She transferred to the University of Sheffield and graduated as Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1973. After university, Mantel worked in the social work department of a geriatric hospital, and then as a sales assistant in a department store. In 1972 she married Gerald McEwen, a geologist. In 1974 she began writing a novel about the French Revolution, which was later published as A Place of Greater Safety. In 1977 Mantel moved to Botswana with her husband. Later they spent four years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She published a memoir of this time, Someone to Disturb, in the London Review of Books. She later said that leaving Jeddah felt like "the happiest day of [her] life.”

 

During her twenties, Mantel suffered from a debilitating and painful illness. She was initially diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, hospitalised, and treated with antipsychotic drugs. These drugs paradoxically produced psychotic symptoms, and as a consequence, Mantel refrained from seeking help from doctors for some years. Finally, in Botswana and desperate, she consulted a medical textbook and realised she was probably suffering from a severe form of endometriosis, a diagnosis confirmed by doctors in London. The condition and necessary surgery left her unable to have children and continued to disrupt her life. Continued treatment by steroids caused weight gain and radically changed her appearance.


 
 

 

LAST          

 

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Ratings

Adventure

  8 

Filmability

  8

Historical

 10 

Humorous

  2 

Intellectuality

  6

Life-changing

  6

Page turner

  7

Readability

  6

Romance

  6

 

Age guide: 12+

 

 

 

 


Novels by same author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adaptations:

2013 RSC stage production

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© PWF.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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