Hilary Mantel has won the Man Booker Prize 2012 with her novel Bring up the Bodies. The book is her sequel to the 2009 winner, Wolf Hall.
With this award, she has become the first British writer and the first woman to win the Man Booker more than once.
At London’s Guildhall on Tuesday evening, She accepted her award with the words “You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize. Two come along at once.”
At the end of the first book, Wolf Hall, there seems to be a happily-ever-after ending for Henry and Anne – although anyone familiar with history knows that won’t last long.
Bring up the Bodies begins in 1535. As with Wolf Hall, this sequel features detailed descriptions as seen through Cromwell’s eyes. He was aware of the approaching trouble. Henry has already set his eyes on Jane Seymour, in part because Anne has failed to give him a son.
Anne’s marriage was not recognized by many European countries. Many in England saw Catherine of Aragon as the rightful queen. Princess Elizabeth was growing, the exiled Catherine of Aragon was dying, and her daughter, the disinherited Princess Mary, was kept in the house. Cromwell, while trying to save himself and grow his fortune, was also trying to save the country and deal with the problems of the unstable King Henry. He was, once again, to find a way to dismantle Henry’s marriage…
The brilliant effect of being in Cromwell’s mind, with the close third person narration, is still there in this book, although the confusing “he” is now “he, Cromwell”, but still as confusing. The reader is experiencing the drama, and Cromwell’s uncertainties, from the first hand. He is as compelling as he was in the first book. But it is also starting to get difficult to keep liking him – but not enough to throw him in the fire just yet.
As Sir Peter Stothard put it; “This is a bloody story. But Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her art, her power of prose, to create moral ambiguity.”
Mantel, with her proven talent and elegant writing, took a well known piece of history and turned it into an exquisite, page turning, story. A story not just Tudor fans, but anyone who reads, can enjoy.
Are you a fan of Wolf Hall series? What do you think of Bring up the Bodies? Leave your thoughts below…