Hilary Mantel wins 2012 Booker Prize

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Bring up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel won the 2012 Booker Prize for the second book in her Tudor trilogy, Bring up the Bodies.

I’m a bit surprised that they’ve given her the prize for the second time and am feeling a little deflated about the result. I guess this means I’ll be trying Wolf Hall on audio at some point in the near future. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with that format as the text version didn’t do much for me.


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37 Comments

  1. cbjames says:

    I’ve not tried Wolf Hall yet, myself. I’ll admit I don’t care much for the subject matter. I’m a firm anti-royalist who believes the Tudors basically all didn’t get nearly the bad ends they deserved, but I will say I have been very impressed with the Hilary Mantel books I have read.

    Still, does this mean they have to give the award to book number three when it comes out. Is there a special name for doing that?

    1. Jackie says:

      cbjames, “Still, does this mean they have to give the award to book number three when it comes out?”

      I don’t think there have been many times when an author has so much expectation put on a book they haven’t even written yet. I really hope she can finish her trilogy well or there will be a lot of disappointed people!

  2. Christina says:

    I was left wondering like CB James if she would end up receiving the Booker for the third book once it comes out.

    I never read Wolf Hall but did receive a copy of Bringing Up the Bodies for review from LibraryThing. Such a difficult book for me to get through that I’m not inclined to go back and read Wolf Hall. I’ve heard much better things about her other books, particularly Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, so I might still try one of those.

    1. Jackie says:

      Christina, There has been so much talk of the Tudor trilogy that it is almost possible to forget that she’s written lots of other books. Trying one of her other books is a good idea – I might do the same.

  3. Jenners says:

    I guess it is a huge honor for her but you’d think they would spread it around a bit more. Just being nominated should have been enough since she won before!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I agree – especially when I didn’t think her book was head and shoulders above all the others on the list. Nevermind. We can’t win them all :-(

  4. Mystica says:

    If the book deserves the win fair enough.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, Yes. It is all so subjective though. Trying to decide which book is the best is so difficult when you are comparing such different styles/subject matters. I’m just a little disappointed someone different missed out.

  5. I really enjoyed Wolf Hall so I’m looking forward to reading this. It’s an amazing achievement for Mantel – I didn’t think she’d get the prize but reading around everyone’s saying how powerful this book is and even better than Wolf Hall so I’m sure it is well-deserved. I’m just relieved Umbrella didn’t win as I’ve set myself the task of reading the winner before the year’s out!

    1. Jackie says:

      Liz, People seem to be divided over whether this book is better than Wold Hall – I look forward to finding out what you think.

  6. Caroline says:

    Deflated is an apt way of putting it.
    Surely they could have found another worthy winner?

    1. Jackie says:

      Caroline, Glad I’m not alone in my thoughts.

  7. markbooks says:

    Yeah, it’s a bit disappointing. I can see why people like Mantel but it doesn’t do anything for me. It’s hardly boundary-stretching is it – I know the Booker isn’t necessarily about boundary-stretching, but to me, taking a few risks is what turns a good book into a great one. Too many middlebrow books are winning prizes these days!

    1. Jackie says:

      mark, I agree. I do like books that stretch the mold and take fiction in a new direction. I’b be rooting for HHhH if it had been eligible – there’s a book that breaks from the norm!

  8. Teresa says:

    I really couldn’t get on with Wolf Hall despite two attempts and I’m not known for giving up on books plus I loved Philippa Gregory’s Tudor series. I doubt if I’ll ever read this one either even though I’ve heard it’s so much more readable than the first. Maybe my mood will change and try again….but somehow I doubt it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I’ve heard that Wolf Hall works really well on audio so I’m going to attempt it one day. Hopefully I’ll have more luck in that format.

  9. David says:

    Well, I for one was thrilled at the announcement. Of the four shortlisted books I’d read it was my favourite by some distance, and would be the only one of those four which might make my own end-of-the-year top ten. I was however very surprised they gave it to Mantel again, especially given Peter Stothard’s comments about books that seem difficult etc. and not rewarding ‘bestsellers’. I found ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ to be a real page-turner, but felt it relied a bit too much on the reader having read ‘Wolf Hall’ to be judged in isolation.

    I would have been quite disappointed if either of the other three I’d read had won (I didn’t rate the Levy, Moore’s was very good but I’m never sure giving the prize to a first novel is a good idea, and while Tan’s was lovely – it’d make a wonderful film – I found it a bit ordinary).
    I was sure it was going to go to Will Self and I’d have to try again to get past the first few pages!

    1. Jackie says:

      David, It is great to see that someone is pleased, but your comments don’t make me feel better. I don’t think Mantel will ever be to my taste, but I had worried that BUTB didn’t work in isolation. It doesn’t seem fair for a book to win when it has already had a prequel to introduce all the characters etc. I think the shortlist was strong this year and another author should have had the chance to shine.

      I also disagree about Tan’s novel. I didn’t think it was ordinary. But that is the problem with literary prizes – it is all so subjective!

  10. Tony says:

    I’m sure it’s good, but it doens’t sound like my kind of book – and that’s OK. I think people expect the Booker winner to be a great book which everyone will enjoy. Sometimes a book just isn’t for you, despite its quality :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Tony, Is it even possible to have a great book that everyone enjoys? Not sure such a thing exists. I just wish someone else had been given some attention. The shortlist was so strong that it seems a shame she is rewarded twice whilst others are ignored.

  11. Heather says:

    I am really disappointed with this decision–I thought Wolf Hall was terrible, and it’s only one of two books I’ve ever put down without finishing. I couldn’t even get past the first 60 pages, or so.

    1. Jackie says:

      Heather, I abandon a lot of books so not being able to finish Wolf Hall wasn’t out of the ordinary for me. It didn’t excite me at all. Shame.

  12. JoV says:

    Why do I feel compelled I have to read Wolf Hall now that Mantel won twice??! even if so many people has said it is hard to get into the book.

    I’m deflated as well. But I like to read Mantel’s “Eight Months on Ghazzah Street”.

    Pat Barker won the Booker for The Ghost Road for her Regeneration Trilogy. Maybe they should have waited for Mantel to finish the whole trilogy to award her the prize! (lol. Just a thought).

  13. Athira says:

    Well, that’s disappointing. I don’t know if I will try Mantel’s books, and the fact that both of them have won the Booker prize makes me wonder if I’m missing a lot.

  14. I haven’t read any of the shortlisted titles this year (I was tempted, but was too caught up in the Canlit prizelists) so I can’t comment on the jury’s decision. But I did enjoy actually watching the presentation; I think this has been an option in other years of late, but I’ve never been at home for it (and only just made it to the broadcast this time, too). It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we had to wait for the following day’s newspapers to find out the results, so that was quite an experience in and of itself.

  15. stujallen says:

    i hated wolf hall so rahter disappointed that it won and felt other books were maybe more worthy than a second in a series ,all the best stu

  16. Jeanne says:

    I’m one of the readers who loved Wolf Hall on audio; I wrote about how much fun it was to drive and listen to it during February and March last year. No matter how dismal I felt in the endless, gray Ohio winter, something worse was always happening in Wolf Hall and they were bouncing back from it–those who lived through it, anyway.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I really liked Wolf Hall. It had some pronoun issues at times, you had to really pay attention because it could be hard to tell who she was talking about. BUT I love that time period and I loved that it was told from Cromwell’s point of view. Bring up the Bodies was even better. The pronoun issue was gone and it was quite a bit more polished.

  18. Deflated is probably a good way to describe my feeling about it. Is she guaranteed a third? I bet she’s hoping so. lol

  19. mee says:

    I have started to think about reading Wolf Hall after I moved to England for a while. It’s a part of history that I’m very interested in. Now that the second book has won another Booker, I’m very compelled to give it a try! Let’s see how far I get (I have abandoned LOTS of books in the past year).

  20. A really deserving winner. Very pleased the judges didn’t feel an obligation to award the prize to somebody who hadn’t already won. Well done Hilary!

  21. Chinoiseries says:

    It seems like many people are feeling let down by the judges. Is a sequel in a series really that good that it deserves another prize? I’m not sure… like you, I think it’s time to give the books a try on audio.

  22. gareth says:

    I enjoy history and read fact, fiction and everything in between.

    I’ve just finished Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and was bitterly disappointed.

    I thought that having won the Booker Prize and being about one of my favourite periods, I would find it a real page-turner.
    Not at all. I found many of the descriptive passages unnecessary and a little contrived as if her ultimate aim was an award, rather than just telling a story and entertaining the readers. And, I didn’t care about any of the characters which is a major flaw where you’re looking with fresh eyes at a specific person, such as Cromwell. And most irritatingly, I hated the way she wrote speech. I could rarely tell who was speaking and had to spend time looking back and trying to ascribe certain passages to particular people. I found it longer than warranted and found her excessive use of punctuation annoying – splitting sentences repeatedly which caused me to stumble rather than read fluently.

    1. Jackie says:

      Gareth, You’ve found the right place to vent your disappointment! I agree with everything you say. :-(

      1. gareth says:

        Those who like history novels based in fact should read Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey and The Verneys by Adrian Tinniswood, Jane Boleyn – the infamous Lady Rochford by Jane Fox, Music and Silence by Rose Tremain and anything by Alison Weir and avoid Philippa Gregory’s latest chick-lit trash which is dumbing down that whole period – a real shame

        1. Jackie says:

          Thanks for the recommendations! I’m already a fan of Rose Tremain and Alison Weir, but am not aware of the other authors (I don’t read that much historical fiction) Next time I’m in the mood for some historical fiction I’ll try to get hold of one of the books you mention.

  23. gareth says:

    Thanks – now I’ve found this website I should have more excellent reads!

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