Bring up the bodies by Hilary Mantel

About the book

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation. Sequel to Wolf Hall.

Reviewed by Meon Valley Reading Group

Enjoyable, very descriptive, well researched and a good insight to court life. Half the book club members loved it and half thought it a little wordy and boring. It has however been the best book this book club has read so far.

Star rating ****

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Sovereign by C J Sansom

About the book

Following the uncovering of a plot against his throne in Yorkshire, King Henry VIII has set out on a Progress to the North, to overawe his rebellious subjects there once and for all.

Reviewed by The Benches

Easy to read portrayal of Tudor England at the time of Henry VIII. Questionable use of expletives during the 16th century. Unexpected twist at the end of the novel. Good “beach” read.

Star rating: ***

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Dissolution by C J Sansom

About the book

Henry VIII has ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and England is full of informers. At the monastery of Scarnsea events have spiralled out of control with the murder of Commissioner Robin Singleton. Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer, and his assistant are sent to investigate.

Reviewed by Barnfield

Atmospheric, page turner, absorbing. Would highly recommend.

Star rating: ****

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Revelation by C J Sansom

About the book

Spring, 1543. King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, whom he wants for his sixth wife. But this time the object of his affections is resisting. Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court are watching keenly, for Lady Catherine is known to have reformist sympathies.

Reviewed by Keyhaven Yacht Club

Rather like a medieval Midsomer Murders! Historical London scenes very good. Facts on religion rather unclear, Catholic or Protestant. Overall enjoyed by half the group.

Star rating: ***

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

About the book

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford WI Reading Group:

Stimulating, interesting. Very well researched and very readable. Looking forward to the sequel! Interesting insight into Tudor life. Thomas More an interesting character – not very attractive and very stubborn. A different approach from the usual laudatory books.

Star rating: ****

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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

About the book

Set in the court of King Henry VIII, Mary Boleyn attracts the attention of the young king and becomes his mistress; when he tires of her, she sets out to school her sister, Anne, as a replacement. Politics and passion are inextricably bound together in this compelling drama. The Boleyn family is keen to rise through the ranks of society, and what better way to attract the attention of the most powerful in the land than to place their most beautiful young woman at court? But Mary becomes the king’s mistress at a time of change. He needs his personal pleasures, but he also needs an heir. The unthinkable happens and the course of English history is irrevocably changed. For the women at the heart of the storm, they have only one weapon; and when it’s no longer enough to be the mistress, Mary must groom her younger sister in the ways of the king. What happens next is common knowledge – but here it is told in a way we’ve never heard it before, with all of Philippa Gregory’s characteristic perceptiveness, backed by meticulous research and superb storytelling skills.

Reviewed by Cheerful Bags Reading Group:

Absolutely brilliant, very interesting story and brings history into the mind much easier. Everyone thought it was really good.

Star rating: ****
 

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The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

About the book

The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both language and habits are foreign. Although fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she senses a trap closing around her. Katherine is confident that she can follow in the steps of her cousin Anne Boleyn to dazzle her way to the throne but her kinswoman Jane Boleyn, haunted by the past, knows that Anne’s path led to Tower Green and to an adulterer’s death. The story of these three young women, trying to make their own way through the most volatile court in Europe at a time of religious upheaval and political uncertainty, is Philippa Gregory’s most compelling novel yet.

Reviewed by Brats et al Reading Group:

Although many of us did not profess to be fans of historic fiction, we all enjoyed this book. It is not a classic piece of literature, but it is a romp which keeps you enthralled to the end. We liked the way the author had taken a small number of facts related to the Queens of Henry VIII, added to them the essence of the Tudor age and produced an enjoyable story. For those who read ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, it was interesting to see how the characters from that novel evolved in this one, particularly by the use of three narrators. This would be a good holiday read.

Star rating: ***

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