Bring Up the Bodies

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2012, 12:00am


Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel (read by Simon Vance)
Fourth Estate (audiobook)

I loved Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, her extraordinary Man Booker-winning novel about Thomas Cromwell's rise and fall in the court of Henry VIII. My only gripe was the typeface chosen for the paperback. This was so miniscule that reading left me nearly cross-eyed. For the follow-up, Bring Up the Bodies, I thought I would give my eyes a rest and choose the audiobook. The good news is twofold. First, the sequel is every bit as atmospheric, thought-provoking and humane as the original. Second, the reader is Simon Vance, who has graced works such as Dune and Nicholas Nickleby with his supple and sensitive readings. The plot thickens quickly, picking up where Wolf Hall left off. Cromwell is pushing the English Reformation, in part by annulling Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, thus easing the way for Anne Boleyn. As history has taught us, often in sensational terms, Anne was not long for the king's bed. Mantel's focus, however, remains on Cromwell, who combines class insecurity, bureaucratic genius and religious clarity. Vance reads him brilliantly. I can't think of many better ways to spend 14 hours and 26 minutes.