Bring Up the Bodies is the latest novel from Hilary Mantel, the prodigiously talented author of Wolf Hall, a 2009 award-winner in both Great Britain and the U.S. Returning to Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII, Mantel here turns to the tale of Anne Boleyn. Musing on Britishness and "Bring Up the Bodies" reminded me of Monty Python and "bring out yer dead," and how does bringing up a body differ from bringing up a baby? Up, out, up--and away! To the land of verb particles.


The story of England's king Henry VIII and his six wives has been a magnet for historians and novelists alike. Romantic historical fiction lovers can dip into Phillippa Gregory's fabulous The Other Boleyn Girl and the rest of her Tudor series. Those seeking the story from a popular historian's viewpoint can look at Antionia Fraser's bestselling The Wives of Henry VIII, or any of wealth of factual histories.


Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall, [the title is the name of the family manse of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour], won the Man Booker prize in Great Britain and the National Book Critic's Circle award in the U.S.A. Mantel's innovation for this oft-told tale is to view Henry and his consorts not through their eyes, or that of an omniscient narrator, but via Thomas Cromwell, Henry's ruthless, relentless, and deviously dull chief minister. 


I can't wait to read this followup. What will "the bodies" be? Is it the body of Anne, beheaded? And up from where?


And what is the difference betweek "following" and "following up"? Between "bringing" and "bringing up"? Bringing a salad to a party and bringing it up from the basement are not the same as bringing up baby. Asking where someone was brought up means talking about upbringing, which is not about bringing something or someone up from one location to another. 


Examining the verb "bring" and the preposition "up" brings up phrasal verbs. These are verbs that have specific semantic meaning when used with a specific preposition. The prepositions in phrasal verbs are called verb particles. Particles are prepositions that not only follow a verb but actually are a part of the verb, changing its meaning. While prepositions often refer to time, place, or manner, verb particles often change the meaning of a verb, making it metaphorical rather than physical. 


English has many phrasal verbs: just a few examples are bring (carry) and bring up (raise from childhood; introduce into conversation); look (view) and look after (care for); watch (view continuously) and watch out (beware).


Well, we can all watch out for the correct spelling of Hilary Mantel's name (not like the mantle over a fireplace) and for her next book as well. In the meantime, I'm enjoying this one!



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Ellen Scordato has 25 years' book publishing experience as an editor, copy editor, proofreader, and managing editor. She's now a partner in The Stonesong Press, a nonfiction book producer and agency. In addition to her work at Stonesong, Ellen has taught grammar, punctuation, and style at the New School for more than 12 years in the English Language Studies department and taught English as a Second Language at Cabrini Immigrant Services and the College of Mount Saint Vincent Language Institute. 


by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎05-25-2012 12:00 PM

I've started reading Bring Up the Bodies and it is excellent (about halfway through - not as long as the first)!  I really hope Mantel has a third novel in this series - given that the first was titled Wolf Hall - the ancestral home of the Seymour's - I hope there is more of a tie-in before Cromwell meets his demise.

by Blogger Ellen_Scordato on ‎06-01-2012 09:36 AM

Ha! Yes, I admit I was rathter happy to see it wasn't as long as Wolf Hall, myself. As far as I know, yup, there's a third novel planned, per recent interview:



by JoeRous on ‎12-13-2012 08:17 AM

I was terribly distracted trying to identify who the narrator is. Constantly having to reread paragraphs to find who "he" is. Irritating in the extreme to the point of headache inducing. 

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