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#437 ~ Bring Up the Bodies


Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Published by: Henry Holt and Co.

Published on: May 8, 2012

Page Count: 432

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com using a monthly credit

Audiobook Published by: Macmillan Audio

Narrator: Simon Vance

Audiobook Length: 14 hours 35 minutes

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook

Note: I am pleased to publish this book during Audiobook Week, hosted by Jen from Devourer of Books, as it is an example of why I love listening to and reviewing audiobooks.

Giveaway: Macmillan Audio has graciously offered a giveaway of this audiobook to one of my lucky readers. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post before 11:59pm EST on Friday, July 6th. I’ll announce the winner on July 7th.


My Review

Henry VIII was the first great love of my book blogging career. I first fell for him through Philippa Gregory and then expanded my horizons to cover as much Tudor ground as I could. Eventually, I succumbed to Tudor burnout. Like Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr, my reading life moved on without him. That was until Wolf Hall was published. When I read it, I loved Hilary Mantel’s novel for all of its complexity in style and richness in character. I will never forget how she made me like Thomas Cromwell. To me, this was and still is somewhat miraculous. I don’t think there was another Tudor era figure I despised more, with the possible exception of Norfolk. This isn’t to say that Wolf Hall was an easy read. I invested quite a bit of time with it, getting to know and appreciate Mantel’s structure. I was happily prepared to devote that same time and care to the next novel in the series.

I think it’s safe to say that my secong great love of my blogging career has been Simon Vance. If you took a look at my blog’s history post The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, you’ll find at first a small shift and then a sizemic shift into the world of audiobooks. Certainly I’ve listened to and reviewed many of Simon Vance’s titles, but it has gone well beyond that. Unlike with Henry and Tudor England, I’ve not once felt even a touch of burnout. So, when I saw the seemingly innocent tweet from Macmillan Audio announcing that Simon Vance would be narrating Bring Up the Bodies, the second installment in Mantel’s Tudor series, I nearly passed out from delight. Henry and Simon together? Sweet Pete in Heaven, what bliss. When I received an ARC in the mail, there really wasn’t that much of a decision to be made to wait on the audio.

Bring Up the Bodies begins with Anne Boleyn on the decline. She’s failed to give her husband an heir and the head strong nature that once charmed the king, now began to irritate him. When the king is not happy with his wife, of course there are those who rise up to use this to their advantage. There are also those who have to abruptly change course and find another avenue to favor. Thomas Cromwell does both. Instrumental in Anne’s rise to power, he, Cromwell, must find a way to gracefully make way for the mousy and perhaps even dimwitted Jane Seymour. Through loose lips he even discovers a means by which to avenge he death of his beloved Wolsey.

I am not sure if it was because of the difference in medium, Simon Vance’s expert narration, or having already read Wolf Hall, but I found Bring Up the Bodies a much easier read. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have to pay attention. I very much did, but I never hit a point while listening that I could no longer concentrate. Despite being nearly 18 months since I’d read Wolf Hall, I saw how Mantel wove in the themes of the first novel and brought her unique style into the second queen’s fall from grace. The connection between the two books felt seamless.

Bring Up the Bodies is the first Tudor novel I’ve listened to in audio. It was a treat to have Simon Vance be the first to give voice to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. This may be treason, but they were not the highlights. Two minor characters and Thomas Cromwell himself stole the show from the royal couple. Together, Mantel and Vance’s Lady Rochford, ever the catty bitch, was delectable. I savored the way Vance brought her to life during her audience with Cromwell. Henry’s basturd son, the Duke of Richmond, also makes  a brief, but memorable appearance. The tone and the genuine uncertainty Simon Vance brought to the Duke’s character was hilarious. Given how subtly that scene was written, I’m not entirely sure it would have had the same impact on me in print. As the main character through whom we see the events unfold, it was important that any narrator understand Thomas Cromwell and his motivations. His portrayal was strong throughout, and, as Cromwell ticked off the four paws from the unforgettable masque about Wolsey, it was chillingly apparent that Simon Vance knew his man.

I absolutely adored Bring Up the Bodies. Mantel’s unique writing style and take on Henry VIII’s reign has reinvigorated my interest in Tudor England. I enjoyed this book and Simon Vance’s narration from start to finish. It is my hope to find Bring Up the Bodies an Audie Nominee in 2013 and that Macmilan Audio will carry this casting through to Cromwell’s demise in the last book.

22 Comments

  • At 2012.06.29 09:50, Alex (Sleepless Reader) said:

    (Hope there’s no geographical restriction to the give-away). Wolf Hall was one of the best bookclub discussion I’ve ever had and the group is just waiting for Bring UP the Bodies to come out in paperback to dive into it as well. Looking forward to it!

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    • At 2012.06.29 10:42, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      I went to a Book Your Lunch for Ron Rash last month and he just raved about this book! I’m so glad you loved it too. I’m not going to enter the giveaway.

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      • At 2012.06.29 12:58, Ti said:

        All I ever hear is how wonderful Vance is but I have yet to hear him read a book and I listen to lots of books on audio.

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        • At 2012.06.29 13:24, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

          I’m not actually reading your review, because I JUST finished this morning and haven’t written my own review yet, but I loved this so much!

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          • At 2012.06.29 16:33, Nise' said:

            I am definitely going to listen to this book!

            • At 2012.06.29 16:59, Emma @ Words And Peace said:

              Thanks for your great review. I share the same love for this book and its narrator. see my own review here: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/06/13/2012-27-review-bring-up-the-bodies/

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              • At 2012.06.29 18:12, Kristin T. said:

                I just heard about Hilary Mantel and Wolf Hall, which I purchased a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to read it. I’ve been hearing great things about Bring Up the Bodies and would love a chance to win the audio to listen to it. Thanks for the giveaway and great review!

                I’ve listened to one other Tudor era book – The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir and I thought she did a really good job.

                I’ve also heard good things about Simon Vance and have been wanting to reread The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo before reading the other two books in the series and now I might listen to it instead.

                • At 2012.06.29 19:02, Michelle said:

                  The positive reviews for this one have finally convinced me to read Wolf Hall so that I can get to this one.

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                  • At 2012.06.29 19:45, JoAnn said:

                    I have a print copy ready to go, but I would REALLY rather listen! Thanks for the giveaway.

                    • At 2012.06.29 21:53, amanda (tnrunner66) said:

                      Really looking forward to this one. Would love a chance to win. Terrific review as always 🙂

                      • At 2012.06.30 16:06, Jessica M (@crazylilcuban) said:

                        I’m with Michelle on this one, I’ve seen so many good reviews that I need to finally pull out my copy of Wolf Hall and actually read it so I can get to this one too! And the raving about Simon Vance is making me want to finally try out an audiobook narrated by him. I sometimes have trouble with audiobooks because a less than stellar narrator throws me off too much from the book itself, but I keep seeing that he’s an amazing narrator so I’ll have to give him a try!

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                        • At 2012.07.14 17:39, Jennifer said:

                          Congratulations! You won the audiobook! I’ll send you a DM to get your address.

                        • At 2012.07.01 08:40, Joselle Merritt said:

                          Hilary Mantel is a new author to me but I love books about England both before and during the Henry VIII’s time. As a history buff, I’ve found so many that just don’t quite make it and this one sounds wonderful!

                          • At 2012.07.03 06:00, Amritorupa Kanjilal said:

                            Hi Jennifer,
                            I hope the giveaway is not restricted to any country 🙂
                            I cannot tell you how much I loved Wolf Hall, so I’m hugely excited about Bring up the Bodies, which I’m going to start reading today.

                            Loved your blog! following you now! Please do visit my book blog , and if you like it, please do follow!

                            • At 2012.07.03 09:46, Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick said:

                              I read Wolf Hall just in November and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel. I’ve not listened to this time period in audio before, and since I’m an audiobook junkie, I might have to check this one out. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

                              • At 2012.07.04 13:38, Kailana said:

                                I really want to try this series. I have Wolf Hall on my TBR, but just haven’t got to it yet…

                                • At 2012.07.28 21:33, Emily said:

                                  “Sweet Pete in heaven . . .” LOL 🙂

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                                    • At 2013.06.17 07:08, Audiobook Week ~ My Year in Audiobooks said:

                                      […] For Me by Beth Hoffman and narrated by Jenna Lamia Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and narrated by Simon Vance Astray by Emma Donaghue and narrated by Khristine […]

                                      • At 2013.06.17 18:32, Audiobook Week – Choosing Audiobooks said:

                                        […] just work for my go-to narrators, either. True, when I found out that Simon Vance was narrating Bring Up the Bodies, there was no real decision for me as to which format I would be reading that book. Still, I have a […]

                                        • At 2013.10.11 04:00, TudorFest2013 said:

                                          […] Winter King. Currently I’m a little over half way through. I’ll be switching out Bring Up the Bodies for Queen’s Gambit since I’ve already listened to Simon’s work on Bring Up the […]

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