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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2) - Hilary Mantel, Simon Vance "The enticement of historical fiction is ultimately that it smooths out the inconsistencies in the past and fills in the unknown." (Source of this quote.) This book together with the author's previous book, Wolf Hall, does exactly that with such skillful writing that I consider Hilary Mantel to be the best ever at this genre.

This book views history from Thomas Cromwell's point of view, and covers the time period from September 1535 to the summer of 1536. This book is a sequel to [b:Wolf Hall|6101138|Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)|Hilary Mantel|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1336576165s/6101138.jpg|6278354] which was the story of the fall of Sir Thomas More and the rise of Anne. This book is basically the story of the fall of Anne Boleyn. No need for a spoiler alert here since everybody knows how this story ends.

The thrill of reading this book is having historical events come alive through skillfully written thoughts and dialog of Henry VIII's secretary in charge of getting things done, Thomas Cromwell. But it's a grim story, so having the story become more up close and personal isn't necessarily a happy experience. Let's just say that I have a new found appreciation for the benefits of no-fault divorce.

The story is told mostly through interior thoughts and dialog told in present tense third person with mimimal narrative description of time and place. Mantel's writing style is unique. I like it, but I'm not sure I completely understand what's different about it. I was curious about how some other reviewers described her writing style so I searched the internet and here are some samples of what I found:
"sinuous subtlety of her present-historic style"

"insistent present tense, which creates immediacy at the expense of narrative, but it brings the characters into close-up, with a concomitant loss of overall perspective"

"the style with its clipped but powerful immediacy; the wit, the poetry and the nuance"

"Is it me, or is the grammar atrocious"
So opinions vary, and it appears I'm not the only person that has struggled at finding words to describe Mantel's writing style.