This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
This sequel to Wolf Hall covers Thomas Cromwell’s determination to keep favour with King Henry VIII, while dealing with Henry's waning interest in Anne Boleyn and the transfer of his affections to the quiet Jane Seymour. Both of the women's families conspire to secure their daughter's position in the court.
At the beginning we follow Katherine’s illness and subsequent death and Anne Boleyn’s concerns that her daughter is foremost in the king's affections, rather than those of Princess Mary. We then follow Anne's desperate last attempts to keep the King’s interest as she fails to produce the male heir he so desperately wants leaving her vulnerable to Cromwell who works hard to do his king's bidding and engineer her dramatic downfall ensuring Henry is free to marry Jane Seymour.
Cromwell comes across as a man who loved his family and missed his wife and daughters desperately, while at the same time having to ensure he keeps one step ahead of his enemies who are equally determined to see him fail. He is clever, manipulative and thorough as he contrives to manage the King's moods and whims, so as not to make similar mistakes to those before him and end up losing his own life.
I preferred Wolf Hall to this book, probably because I was more aware of the story behind Bring Up The Bodies, so it held fewer surprises or intrigue for me. However, the writing is undoubtedly superb and the beginning clever with the hawks used at the king’s hunting party being named after Cromwell’s dead daughters.