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Bring up the Bodies
May 11, 2012
2:39 pm
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Bill1978
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i definitely think it is a cop out to hide behind her fictional Cromwell. Cause let’s be honest, if you didn’t at least share some of Cromwell’s view it would make it very difficult to write like Cromwell. The video clearly shows her carefully choosing her words to not outright say Anne was guilty, but it’s definitely there. And it is a pity that after many years of people clearing the soiled names of Anne and the guys, a highly anticipated book is just going to re-inforce all the misfacts of a PG novel to the masses again. Especially one that appears to be loved by critics. Let’s hope she at least doesn’t support the incest charge.

Louise, thanks for the compliment but you haven’t seen me after I hear someone say refer to a DreamWorks animated film as being from Disney LOL

May 11, 2012
3:24 pm
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Louise
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That’s another thing that makes me grumpy (no not DreamWorks). It’s the fact that Cromwell, up until the row over monastic funds, didn’t have a poor relationship with the Boleyns, and so the views Mantel expresses him to have are fabricated. Mantel tells us Cromwell wanted revenge on the Boleyns and their friends partly due to their treatment of his beloved Wolsey. What a load of rubbish. Cromwell didn’t lift a finger to save Wolsey and in reality took full advantage of his fall. When Wolsey bribed some of Anne’s favourites in order to try and save himself, he did so on Cromwell’s advice, but Cromwell made damn sure everyone knew who they really had to thank for it.
Mantel explains Cromwell’s desire for revenge, specifically against George, Norris, Brereton and Weston, for them acting in a play in which Wolsey is dragged to hell. In reality the play was commissioned by Thomas Boleyn and was preformed at a private dinner for the French Ambassador. There is no mention of the four men even being present let alone acting in the play. Yet in Mantel’s fertile little brain it is the justification for killing them.
I don’t believe, from what I’ve read that the Boleyns are portrayed as being guilty of the crimes they were charged with, but they are portrayed as being guilty of something deserving of death. In her attempt to show the Boleyns in a poor light and Cromwell in a good light Mantel has twisted historical facts to suit herself. It’s almost an attempt to condone the attrocities by saying. well they were all horrible anyway so who cares?
I don’t care how well this woman writes, although I do think prose can be clever for the sake of being clever. I am sick to death with people saying it’s just fiction. So what; these were real people for goodness sake, so take some responsibility with their memories if you’re making money out of them.
Anyway, I really need to calm down before my head explodes! Sorry everyone, but I feel all snuffly just writing this!

May 14, 2012
5:23 pm
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Louise
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I have now bought this book and have started to read it because I felt I should. So far I would definitely prefer poking my eyes out, but think knitting needles would be better than pins. I spent £13 of my hard earned money on the thing. So far I’m shaking with indignation, or is that indigestion, but deep breath and keep reading!!

May 14, 2012
6:12 pm
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Sharon
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Oh Louise,
Yep, take big gulps of air. With the way you feel about this book, you are going to be doing deep breathing exercises throughout. Fiction is not real….breath in… Fiction is not truth….breathe out…Fiction is for fun…just breathe!

May 14, 2012
6:25 pm
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Louise
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Sharon said

Oh Louise,
Yep, take big gulps of air. With the way you feel about this book, you are going to be doing deep breathing exercises throughout. Fiction is not real….breath in… Fiction is not truth….breathe out…Fiction is for fun…just breathe!

Ok, but it’s hard. Breathing is currently difficult due to contortions of the facial muscles. Ok..fiction is fun, fiction is fun…IT’S NOT WORKING!!!!

May 17, 2012
9:19 am
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Louise
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I’ve finished this book and I must say I haven’t had so much fun since my grandmother’s funeral!

May 19, 2012
1:26 am
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Olga
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Ah, this doesn’t sound good at all. Unfortunately I can’t seem to stop reading books that get me angry, I read them all the way through until my head explodes.
Got a mini review for us Louise? I think I’ll borrow mine from the library by the way.

May 19, 2012
6:53 am
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Bella44
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Oh dear, am I the only one who liked this book? Embarassed
Hilary Mantel really makes the Tudor court come alive, I adore her writing style and the fact that she’s picked Cromwell as the narrator, a bold move on her part I think. This book was never going to be an easy read and was never going to show the Boleyns in a saintly light. I don’t agree with all of Mantels portrayals of characters, particularly Anne and George but in the context of this FICTIONAL STORY they make perfect sense. Yet it’s refreshing to read about a harsher view of Anne’s character, one that’s not afraid to paint her in a less than perfect light and one that really made me think. I don’t think Mantel paints her as guilty, yet leaves just enough wiggle room to make the other characters wonder. It was a breathless read that expertly captures the fear, paranoia and confusion of the early months of 1536.

May 19, 2012
10:10 am
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Louise
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Hello Bella,
I’m sure that there are many people who will love this book. I am probably in the minority in hating it, but I don’t accept that innocent people should be unfairly demonised in the guise of fiction. I just don’t enjoy reading about people I care about who are being vilified. Unfortunately the Boleyns tend to be the bad guys in most works of fiction and most people will see them that way because most people will simply accept what they read without bothering to look any further. I have spent years of my life trying to change perceptions so for me this book just helps unwind everything I have worked so hard for.
It strongly gives the impression that Anne may very well have been guilty of all of the crimes she was accused of including incest, it once again raises the allegation of the evil Jane Boleyn who betrays her husband, Anne is unremittingly vile, the five men are cruel and obnoxious, and George cried at his trial. None of this has any basis in fact. It is not simply Mantel’s interpretation, and it’s not Cromwell’s interpretation either. You can’t interpret George crying and needing to sit down before he fainted. It didn’t happen. It’s been put in to make him look like a coward. That isn’t interpretation, it’s just an unpleasant devise. There are many other examples of this. For instance Henry Norris was a lovely man who was liked by everyone. I have read nothing about him to show him in a bad light. Here he is cruel, arrogant and unpleasant. Whenever any of the men are mentioned it is in the same sentence as words such as ‘sneer’ and ‘smirk’.
Mantel tries to convince us that the wonderful Cromwell acted out of vengeance towards the men for the way they treated him and because of their treatment of Wolsey. As I’ve said above, that’s utter rubbish. Mantel neglects the truth i.e. that three of the men were major thorns in Cromwell’s side. So instead of saying so, and running the risk of portraying Cromwell in a bad light, Mantel makes up ‘facts’ about the men to show how right Cromwell is in ridding the court of men who are vile and deserve death due to their lack of morality.
I hated the overall tone of the book. To me the contents were no better than The Other Boleyn Girl. The only difference is that Mantel has a better reputation as an author of merit. Yet to me, although I accept I may be biased, the writing was often clever for the sake of being clever, almost as if Mantel were trying to show off. To me this gave the prose a contrived feeling of self importance.
By the way, in case anyone hasn’t realised yet, I didn’t like this book! And what I really hated is that it was published a matter of days before the executions of the people Mantel has tried so very hard to show deserved death. I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth after reading it.

May 19, 2012
10:31 pm
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Anyanka
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I’m not sure how much influence an author has over publishing dates. That’s normally a publishing house decision.

It's always bunnies.

May 20, 2012
10:37 am
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Olga
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Yeah it is the publisher who decides on release dates actually, I don’t think Mantel would have quite enough clout to make that decision.

I probably haven’t read as much historical fiction as you guys, but in what I have read, generally Anne is painted as a villain. As a matter of fact a lot of historians paint her that way too, and generally the worse opinions I’ve read have come from women. I find that extremely depressing, but that’s another matter.
I can’t agree with you Bella, that a portrayal like that would be refreshing, I find it quite the opposite. I am pretty much bored with reading about “that” sort of Anne and in all honesty I find it lazy. Rather than actually try and get inside her head and explore the character they find it easier to just paint her as the villain. Usually from someone else’s point of view. It’s a cop-out.
I will read it by the way, I’m just getting the feeling it’s not going to be all it’s promised to be.

May 20, 2012
2:55 pm
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Louise
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Whether it was Mantel or her publisher, I think it was brought out at this time deliberately to gain as much publicity as possible. So whichever way you look at it it’s in bad taste.
You’re right, Olga, I think that because Mantel is supposed to be a great writer we expect better things from her. But ultimately, despite the pretensions, this is just another trashy historical fiction book mascarading as great literature.

May 20, 2012
6:28 pm
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Olga
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Actually going from the reviews I just skimmed through on Goodreads bella, I think rather than you being the only person who liked it Louise is the only person who hated it so far Laugh Nearly every review is five stars, I admit I am now completely fascinated. I might have to go out and buy it, the library doesn’t have it yet and it’s got four reserves.

May 20, 2012
7:24 pm
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Louise
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If people want a fictional account of history then they are welcome to it (although I don’t really mean that if I’m honest). Let the people we care about be demonised in the name of entertainment. It’s so depressing!! I’m going to retire and take up gardening. It’s less stressful, and I can abuse a plant without it getting too upset.

May 21, 2012
10:17 am
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Bill1978
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Don’t say that too loud around an extreme tree hugger Louise LOL.

I understand your frustration Louise, and I admit that sometimes I can suckered into the fictional account of history, only cause sometimes it gives me the fairytale that I like to believe happened, eg the love between Jane and Guildford in Lady Jane and the total ignoring of Nicholas II’s negatives in his ruling in Nicholas & Alexandra (cause my god, that final scene is so so so shocking for the family as portrayed). True these movies don’t let the characters live (oops spoiler sorry), but there is something that appeals to my empathetic side that touches my heart in those movies.

So it does make me wonder why Anne is continually painted as a harpie, when it is very clear she only died cause of Henry’s crazy view of the world. Are people scared to put in print or on celluloid that Henry was a tyrant. You can still have Anne being flirtatious and ‘a rebel’ but surely you can also present the fabrication of the lies. Why not insert a scene to show Cromwell devising the dastardly lies. Or how and why the lies were fabricated. I honestly thought that this book was the perfect opportunity to explore Cromwell developing the whole set up but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Which is a pity, as if there were instances like that in the book, I might give it ago. But if I want a light hearted romp through a mistake ridden land of fiction I think I’ll stick to The Other Boelyn Girl.

Based solely on the videos and Louise’s comments, it seems that Mantel is hiding her views behind the character of Cromwell, so if someone says anything Cromwell becomes the scapegoat for her opinion.

May 21, 2012
10:47 am
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Louise
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Thanks, Bill.
I just get depressed that the Boleyns are always portrayed as the bad guys. It’s so boringly lacking in imagination. The problem is for people who only watch and read fiction, they believe Anne was vile, George was an obnoxious coward and the men who died with them were all cruel and unpleasant. They may also believe there’s merit in the charges.
There is no way people like me can compete with that. So Mantel, Gregory, Hirst and Weir have won because their inaccuracies in portraying these people take centre stage. There is no hope in changing the general publics perceptions because those perceptions already form part of their psyche, and it is constantly being reasserted as more and more fiction with the sames themes is written. There’s no way to break that cycle which is why I get so depressed. When faced with people’s love of these books, and more importantly the fact that fiction influences their opinions, it makes you realise that what you’re trying to do is pointless and meaningless.
I can no sooner succeed in changing perceptions of George Boleyn than I can fly to the moon.

May 21, 2012
11:18 am
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Olga
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Louise said
There’s no way to break that cycle which is why I get so depressed. When faced with people’s love of these books, and more importantly the fact that fiction influences their opinions, it makes you realise that what you’re trying to do is pointless and meaningless.
I can no sooner succeed in changing perceptions of George Boleyn than I can fly to the moon.

I disagree Louise. The reason a lot of people actually get interested in history is because of fictional movies, TV shows and books. I myself started reading about Elizabeth I because of the movie with Cate Blanchett, and after reading Philippa Gregory’s books about 18 months ago, I looked through the bibliographies in the back and started buying non-fiction books on all things Tudor. Most of the time on Facebook people who are interested in Tudor history cite either TOBG or The Tudors as getting them started. Then they discover places like this on the internet, groups on Facebook, blogs and more books where they can learn. Sure there are people who are never going to pick up a history book but that doesn’t mean the whole world is hopeless.
You’ll have to tell me what you do Louise, as I’m new to the forum. If you are writing a book or articles about George Boleyn, then keep doing it. There is a gaping hole in the way of books about George Boleyn and I am sure that a good book on him is desperately needed. Get it out there. Every single reader you reach is meaningful.

By the way, gardening is supposed to be relaxing Laugh

May 21, 2012
11:25 am
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Claire
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I finished Bring Up the Bodies last week. I never made it through Wolf Hall as I found the writing style boring (I tried three times and gave up at the same place each time) so this one was better, in that I finished it, but I was very disappointed. I felt that it was actually just TOBG all over again but a more upmarket version. Jane Boleyn was the same old jealous wife and Boleyn traitor, the men were unlikeable and in love with the flirtatious and awful Anne Boleyn… blah blah blah. It wasn’t fresh, it was just the same old myths. If I hadn’t known the true story then I would have been quite happy that they all got executed as there really wasn’t anything to like about them. I also got cross that she made George cry at his trial. When I read a book, I want to empathise with the characters and connect with them, I just couldn’t in this one.

I was surprised when I got to the author’s notes section by Mantel’s view on primary sources – she discounts many because of bias – and also her comment about how there isn’t a good biography of Cromwell. There are two excellent ones, Robert Hutchinson and John Schofield. Schofield’s is particularly good. I would have thought that an author would read the biographies of the main character of her novel.

Anyway, I’m not sure what to do about this book as far as reviewing it is concerned. I don’t think it would be fair to review it when I’ve also written on Anne’s fall, but I may make a list of points that I feel need to be handled, like I did for Gregory’s TOBG – fiction versus fact. What do you think?

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

May 21, 2012
1:16 pm
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Bill1978
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I think a comparison of fact vs fiction would be a wonderful way to review the book.

Oh and Louise I suppose one positive of Mantel’s portrayal of George is that she doesn’t make him gay or bisexual.

Olga, if you are a member of the Anne Boleyn Fellowship you can download Louise’s very informative work on George Boelyn. If I had access to unlimited ink and a binding machine it would be sitting in my Tudor biographies for sure. But at the moment it just sits on my desktop for easy access. I assume it’s still available for download.

May 21, 2012
2:14 pm
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Neil Kemp
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I had to think about adding to this topic as I’m probably not in a good place at the moment, but here goes. I will temper possible criticism before I start by stating that my mother has today been told she must return to hospital as her cancer has now returned, this comes after she was doing rather well in recovering from her earlier stroke. As I have no brothers, sisters, or any other family and have learnt to deal with things on my own, I suppose it has made me put the comments regarding this book into the context of the real world. As an ongoing depressive I do think there are more important things to get depressed about.
I have come to know Louise pretty well in the past weeks and her passionate defence of George does her credit, I know she cares very much about this subject. I think it’s fine to critice an author and/or their work but I don’t think it’s fair to ask people not to enjoy a book because it is historically incorrect, that seems to be a very dictatorial attitude and serves only to upset people. I have read books where I’ve thought, “that’s wrong, or just plain out of order”, but it hasn’t stopped me liking the book, or at least elements of it. I agree with Olga that many people’s first interest in history comes from a film or a book that is based on entertainment not historical accuracy. To assume all these people will then take this for fact is taking for granted that the sort of person that reads/looks at this form of entertainment is an ignoramus, which is wrong. For many it is the gateway to the world of history, where they have the skill and intelligence to find out the true facts. Even if an author such as Mantel gets people reading about the past and stimulates interest by her writings can this be such a bad thing? Bella knows the difference between Mantel’s work and true history but it doesn’t stop her liking the book for the reasons she describes, and why not?
We all have our likes and dislikes and we will never agree on everything, but there are far more important things to worry about in real life and I don’t think we should be falling out amongst ourselves over a subject we all love.
We may not agree with someone liking a book, but we should respect their right to have their own opinion.
There, rant over. I hope I haven’t offended anyone (especially Louise – sorry Louise!), but It’s something I needed to get of my chest.

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