April Books 4) Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
'There is no block, as you see. She must kneel upright and not move. If she is steady, it will be done in a moment.'
This is the second of Mantel's acclaimed trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII. Like Wolf Hall, it is intensely told in the present tense, but it concentrates on a much briefer historical period, the months leading up to the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536. Again Mantel is very good at getting us into Cromwell's head, but I found it a less satisfying book than the previous one; there is much less variety of setting for Cromwell to Reat to - it is entirely about the sexual politics of the court, though rooted of course in the wider European context; and the most interesting person in this story is clearly Anne herself, and it is a shame that we do not really get to hear her voice (in this book or indeed in most books about the period, fiction or non-fiction). However, "not quite as good as Wolf Hall" is still pretty good.