Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies: THE PLAYS

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RATING: 4.5/5

BLURB: “Wolf Hall begins in England in 1527. Henry has been King for almost twenty years and is desperate for a male heir, but Cardinal Wolsey cannot deliver the divorce he craves. Yet for a man with the right talents this crisis could be an opportunity. Thomas Cromwell is a commoner who has risen in Wolsey’s household – and he will stop at nothing to secure the King’s desires and advance his own ambitions.

In Bring up the Bodies, the volatile Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her career seemingly entwined with that of Cromwell. But when the King begins to fall in love with Jane Seymour, the ever-pragmatic Cromwell must negotiate within an increasingly perilous court to satisfy Henry, defend the nation and, above all, to secure his own rise in the world.”

REVIEW: Having devoured both ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring up the Bodies’, I was delighted to discover that they were being made into plays that would hopefully ease the boredom of waiting for the third novel in the trilogy, ‘The Mirror and the Light’, to be released. I went to see both plays over the summer – both were phenomenal – and purchased this book, which contains the scripts of both plays, on my second visit (when I saw ‘Bring up the Bodies’). These plays are brilliant adaptations of Mantel’s groundbreaking works – full of wit, humour, treachery and lust, they capture the truly perilous and tempestuous atmosphere of King Henry VIII’s court. Every moment of the plays, even those filled with humour, run with an undercurrent of danger, just like the English court. I am writing a book set in the Tudor court myself and I can only hope in vain that I will be able to capture the very essence of Tudor high society even as little as a third as well as Mantel and Poulton have done. The characters are complex, vivid and extremely accurate in their attitudes and behaviours – although I have always been a little upset with Mantel’s portrayal of George Boleyn, who becomes in this (as in, unfortunately, many works of historical fiction) a foppish idiot rather than the skilled poet and diplomat we know him to be. Overall, however, I loved the plays almost as much as the books they are based on, and loved having the chance to relive seeing them again through this book.

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