Jonathan Beckman

The King & I

Bring Up the Bodies


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Thomas Cromwell is Henry VIII’s Principal Secretary, Master of the Rolls, Vicegerent in Spirituals. He is the king’s intellect and his conscience and his chain-mailed fist. And he cannot sleep. ‘How many men can say, as I must’, he asks his nephew Richard, ‘“I am a man whose only friend is the King of England”? I have everything … And yet take Henry away and I have nothing.’ Bring Up the Bodies is the second volume in Hilary Mantel’s projected trilogy about the precariousness of those who stand, as the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt wrote, ‘upon the slipper top of court’s estates’. Wolf Hall saw the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey; Bring Up the Bodies tells of Anne Boleyn’s demise; and in The Mirror and the Light, we are led to expect, Cromwell himself will be dispatched to the Tower.

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