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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Read: Hillary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, May 24, 2012 at 11:27 AM

The UK cover is a million times better than the crappy American one.

I'm only a chapter into it, and if the weeks I spent reading Mantel's last book—Wolf Hall—are any indication, Bring Up the Bodies is going to take me a while. That's okay, though; I'm not sure I've read another book since Wolf Hall that I so strongly wished wouldn't end. I'm not a huge historical fiction buff, but I loved 2009's Booker-winner, which describes Thomas Cromwell's rise to power alongside Henry VIII's self-serving split with the Roman Catholic Church. Yesterday someone compared Wolf Hall to a real-life Game of Thrones, and in a way that's apt: There are no dragons, but there's sex, torture, betrayal... incest? Henry VIII did get a special papal dispensation to marry his brother's wife; close enough. Mantel's telling makes the history fascinating—I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia after finishing Wolf Hall; I also watched The Tudors—and her writing is elegant, unstuffy, and often very funny. Bring Up the Bodies is Mantel's sequel to Wolf Hall, the second book in a projected trilogy; it came out earlier this month, and if you're looking for a massively enjoyable but still smarty-pants summer reading project, you couldn't do much better.

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