Bring Up The Bodies

Historical fiction devotees, take note: this and its predecessor, Wolf Hall, set the bar high with an in-depth look at the life of Thomas Cromwell, written in a wholly readable and digestible tone. “Bring Up the Bodies” is the cry from the Tower of London whenever the accused prisoners are to have their day in court. In this book, we see the downfall of Anne Boleyn, the further tightening of Cromwell’s hold on power, the king’s infatuation with Jane Seymour. The king suffers a jousting accident and loses consciousness for some time, during which everyone believes he is dead and people’s true colors come out, Howard shouting, “me, me, me” as if he is the true successor. This incident sharpens Cromwell’s vision of the future and he soon begins to round up witnesses to testify to Anne’s adultery. In addition to the servant boy, Mark’s, testimony, he ropes up the four men who had enjoyed a starring role in re-enacting Cromwell’s hero (the cardinal)’s death at a pageant for the public. As he takes them down, he notes left-forepaw, right-forepaw, etc, according to their place under the beast costume. With this book, Cromwell is at the height of his power. Mantel has planned a trilogy, so the next will be the dramatic fall from grace.