Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hilary Mantel's second historical novel Booker

Thomas Cromwell can now tuck a second Booker Prize under his arm. (With his severed head under the other, I guess.)  Bring Up the Bodies, the second part in Hilary Mantel's vast novel about the 16th century English courtier and politician, just earned her a Booker Prize to match the one she received two years ago for the first part, Wolf Hall.  First sequel to win ever.

The British novelists must be approaching where the Canadian novelists hit about ten years ago: now all their big novels seem to be historically based.  I admired and enjoyed Wolf Hall enormously  Those who dislike it, dislike it a lot, I find, but I was greatly taken both with its strikingly original voice (it's a novel, after all, and that's what matters in fiction) and also with its "theory" of Cromwell, whom it evokes as a "modern" type set against Thomas More as a Medieval fanatic and Henry as the embodiment of everything one fears about autocratic rulers.

Bring up the Bodies struck me as more of the same, and hence a lot less fresh.  And I can't help thinking no matter what Mantel does, the end of the last volume is gonna be a big downer.
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