Hilary Mantel wins Booker Prize for Bring Up The Bodies

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
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Jul 29, 2008
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As I haven't seen any other threads (or even comments) on the issue, so I thought I'd start one.

The title is self-explanatory. Hilary Mantel, the British novelist, has just won the (Man) Booker Prize (for the second time) for her book "Bring Up The Bodies". This makes her the first woman, and first Briton, to have won the award twice. Two others (J. M. Coetzee and Peter Carey) have also won the Booker award twice.

"Bring Up The Bodies" is the second in a planned trilogy of three books, which tell of an extraordinarily convulsive (and endlessly compelling) period - in essence, the birth of the modern era - of English history during the reign of Henry VIII as seen through the thoughtful dark eyes of his controversial, formidably intelligent, talented and sometimes thuggish chief minister, Thomas Cromwell.

The first part of the trilogy, "Wolf Hall", was awarded the Booker Prize in 2009. Prior to that, Mantel had been a widely respected (but never a best selling) novelist - her excellent work on the French Revolution "A Place of Greater Safety" never received the recognition (or the sales) such an impressive work merited.

I'm delighted for her. "Bring Up The Bodies" is stunning - a better book than its excellent predecessor "Wolf Hall" - and the interrogation scenes towards the end are truly unnerving, and are better, in my view than anything in '1984', or 'Darkness at Noon'. This is a writer who immerses herself in original historical sources, charts and navigates the eras she describes with elegance and writes with an exquisite mastery of prose and a beautiful but crisp, modern literary style. Well worth reading, for the story, the story-telling, and the sheer class and craftsmanship of the writing.
 
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jeremy h

macrumors 6502
Jul 9, 2008
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Just finished Bring up the Bodies. Thought it was excellent. It's got more pace and narrative (in my humble opinion) than Wolf Hall. A deserved winner.

I was surprised (and at the same time not surprised) by Wolf Hall winning - but I really struggled with it. I admired the writing - it was brilliant, each paragraph was a work of art but it felt like eating cream cake after cream cake - nothing sort of hung in the mind afterwards - it was all too much. I much preferred Bring up the Bodies and I'm now really looking forward to the third. (I don't think it's too much of a plot spoiler to say I'm really looking forward to how she's going to handle his rather sticky end).

In the meantime, if you fancy something else Beyond Black is an excellent but very odd book. I recommend that one. (It is very British though in it's setting and characters).
 

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macrumors Sandy Bridge
Original poster
Jul 29, 2008
49,899
33,526
The Far Horizon
Just finished Bring up the Bodies. Thought it was excellent. It's got more pace and narrative (in my humble opinion) than Wolf Hall. A deserved winner.

I was surprised (and at the same time not surprised) by Wolf Hall winning - but I really struggled with it. I admired the writing - it was brilliant, each paragraph was a work of art but it felt like eating cream cake after cream cake - nothing sort of hung in the mind afterwards - it was all too much. I much preferred Bring up the Bodies and I'm now really looking forward to the third. (I don't think it's too much of a plot spoiler to say I'm really looking forward to how she's going to handle his rather sticky end).

In the meantime, if you fancy something else Beyond Black is an excellent but very odd book. I recommend that one. (It is very British though in it's setting and characters).
To a certain extent, I agree with you. But, oddly, after I first read "Bring Up the Bodies", I went back and re-read "Wolf Hall" and found it much better after a second read....

However, I think she has really found herself and hit her stride with "Bring Up the Bodies" - it is really excellent. And, yes, like you, I'm really looking forward to seeing how she handles the sticky (and according to one contemporary source, quite gruesome) end - and the 'tottering' (again from a contemporary source) fall which preceded it - of her protagonist.

The Tudor era remains absolutely fascinating, the social, economic, political and theological changes, the larger than life characters, the painful emergence of what is beginning to be recognisably a modern era...and the endlessly absorbing morality tale of Henry himself, destroying wives, lives, social fabric, and advisors, and becoming the bloated monster we all recognise by the end of his reign.

Actually, I haven't read "Beyond Black" though I'm aware it has received terrific reviews. Must take a look at it.
 
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