Bringing up the Bodies

I just recently finished the second book in the series that Hilary Mantel has written on Thomas Cromwell, Bringing up the Bodies. It was a good read, taking the reader through the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Similar to the first book, Wolf Hall, the inner thoughts and ideas of Thomas Cromwell and the maneuvering he does inside the court are what keep the action going.

It’s apparent that Henry VIII isn’t quite right and that his ego knows no bounds, but Cromwell seems to know how to duck and weave his way through the various problems that may arise. At the same time, I find Cromwell, as Mantel portrays him, a really interesting figure. I have no way of knowing what he was truly like in the day-to-day, but Mantel’s character is intriguing and oftentimes wise.

I didn’t highlight very much, but I read the kindle copy, courtesy of my library’s digital lending program.

Certain images will be all that remain from his ride into middle England. The holly berries burning in their bushes. The startled flight of a woodcock, flushed from almost beneath their hooves. The feeling of venturing into a watery place, where soil and marsh are the same colour and nothing is solid under your feet. (loc 1247)

He is not a man wedded to action, Boleyn, but rather a man who stands by, smirking and stroking his beard; he thinks he looks enigmatic, but instead he looks as if he’s pleasuring himself. (loc 2859)

George Rochford will be tried apart, as a peer; the commoners will be tried first. The order goes to the Tower, ‘Bring up the bodies.’ Deliver, that is, the accused men, …. (loc 5358)

Men have been tried for treason, these last few years, and walked free, but these men know they will not escape. They have to think of their families left behind; they want the king to be good to them and that alone should still any protest, prevent any strident pleas of innocence. The court must be allowed to work unimpeded. (loc 5370)

‘The truth is so rare and precious that sometimes it must be kept under lock and key.’ (loc 5754)

Once you have chosen a course, you should not apologise for it. God knows, I mean nothing but good to our master the king. I am bound to obey and serve. And if you watch me closely you will see me do it.’ (loc 5894)

[T]his is what death does to you, it takes and takes, so that all that is left of your memories is a faint tracing of spilled ash. (loc 5932)

There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one. (loc 5962)