Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another Masterpiece from Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for her historical novel Wolf Hall.  The sequel, Bring Up the Bodies has been recently released and is every bit as good as Wolf Hall

In Wolf Hall,  Mantel tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, right hand man to Henry VIII.  Cromwell facilitated Henry's divorce from Katherine of Aragon, removed England from the power of the Pope and hustled saintly Thomas More to the scaffold, all to make Anne Boleyn a queen.

But in Mantel's version, Cromwell is a tough but likable guy who has climbed to a high place in court, a man kindly to his friends and his household and a hard worker who keeps the ship of state financially afloat.  Above all, a man loyal to the king.  Mantel goes further by portraying  More less of a saint than of a fanatic who approved torture and burning for those he considered heretics.

In the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, the ever loyal Cromwell works for the downfall of Queen Anne (spoiler! She dies in the end) and the rise of the insipid Jane Symour who has caught the fancy of the king.

Both books are masterpieces of excellent writing, historical depth, a surprising amount of humour, astute character analysis and a plot that grabs the reader and won't let go. 

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