Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel 2012
Hilary Mantel once again transported me to 16th C England with complete credibility and immersion. I love her writing which proved capable of keeping me in my seat for a couple of hours at at time, and her characterization of Thomas Cromwell is masterful. I would never have imagined spending 800 pages in these two books with the intricacies of the court of Henry VIII as he tries to find a male heir to carry on the fragile Tudor succession. Cromwell is a fascinating and complex character, at once the master chess player moving dozens of pieces across a three-dimensional chess board while also caring for his household. His relationship with Henry is fascinating as is his fragile position in the court intrigues. This volume takes us from Anne Boleyn’s coronation to her (spoiler alert) beheading and once again, I was grateful for the roster of characters that Mantel provides in the opening pages of the book. When the heads of various nobles are finished being separated from their bodies, that roster has been significantly reduced for the final volume. The entry of wife #3, Jane Seymour, presages the third volume of this trilogy, a masterpiece of historical fiction that I highly recommend.