Off With Her Head


Wolf Hall / Bring Up the Bodies

I’ll come right out and say it, I am a huge medieval and Henry VIII-era history nerd. Maybe it’s my English ancestry? I’ve always been completely fascinated by the whole sensibility of King Arthur-era through medieval England, peasants living in the countryside with sheep and maybe a mythical dragon living in the forest (I know that’s not really how it worked but indulge me a little), and Renaissance England: Shakespeare, the monarchy, and the 6-course, rotating door of wives Henry had. I read Macbeth in 3rd grade, which might have had something to do with setting the whole obsession off (also likely responsible for my fear of all things blood-related)(ALSO, my mom kindly reminded me she had a string of Boxers with Shakespearean names, the last of which was Lady Macbeth, when I was a baby). In 5th grade we studied the Tudor family and learned the fun rhyme, “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived” which, if you’re curious, chronicles the unfortunate fates of Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catharine Parr, respectively. And don’t even get me started on the masterpiece that was “The Tudors.” That show was phenomenal and I loved every second of it, even after they tried (unsuccessfully) to make Jonathan Rhys Meyers unattractive and fat.

So it’s no surprise that I basically devoured Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies,” an incredible (obviously fictional) account of the downfall of Anne Boleyn as told through Thomas Cromwell. He’s also her lead protagonist in “Wolf Hall,” which I also loved. My mom’s boyfriend gave them to me as Christmas gifts this year and last. Both are pretty dense behemoths; any book that starts with a family tree or list of characters for reference is going to be a commitment. But, if you’re like me and love that sort of thing, well, here you go. Two amazing books definitely worth reading.

What are you reading right now?

19 thoughts on “Off With Her Head

  1. Shout out to BF! Nice! It is our English heritage and the fact that all of my boxers were named after Shakespearean characters. Lady MacBeth was here to great you when I brought you home from the hospital.

    1. Haha, knew you’d like that. If I remember correctly, you once said, “My favorite posts are the ones where I’m mentioned.” And DUH I totally forgot about your dogs! Editing the post to include that. Clearly it’s been engrained in me since birth. xo

  2. Awesome recommendations! I love thick, juicy reads like this, and lest this comment start to sound too much like porn, I think that’s all I’ll say here. Except thank you!

  3. oooo, that bringing up the bodies book is calling my name! i am with you, i have long loved the medieval times. as a young girl i read so many books set in that time period, i was obsessed. but in my mind it was all so romanticized (i realize this may be the very last era i would want to travel back in time to). i have a photo of myself in at 13 in an emerald green medieval dress that i made my grandparents rent me from a costume store. i was also obsessed with the plague and still love reading book about it. twisted sister we are : )

    1. Oh, I’m with you on the romanticizing. I don’t think I would change time periods from one that has modern medicine and all the comforts my Clinique products afford me, to one without toothpaste or running water. But, prissiness aside, I do think it would be fascinating to have lived back then. I want to see that picture of you in the costume! I bet you looked adorable! xoxo

  4. When I was younger I read more of these period pieces, then I was into dystopia fiction, and right now I’m reading Game of Thrones. which technically is a period piece. It’s so huge and I’ve barely made a dent in it, but that will be my mission this year.

    1. My friend Anna is making her way through the Game of Thrones series, too! Talk about a behemoth. I think that totally counts as a period piece :) xo

  5. I am between books – one of my more recent reads was How to Talk So Kids Can Learn.

    On Tudor related books, I read The Constant Princess by Philippa Gergory. One quote which sticks with me is, “True obedience can only happen when you secretly think you know better, and you choose to bow your head.” (So I can never be truly obedient. Since then I stopped praising the kids I work with for being “obedient”.)

    1. That’s such a great quote! I feel like I’ve heard Philippa Gregory’s name before, but I’ve never read her books. Thank you for the recommendation! I’ll check her out :) xoxo

  6. I’ve been very fortunate to work on site at Hampton Court for the past 6 months which has made me love the Tudor era even more. I’ve especially loved the cold and foggy evenings when the palace is closed, all the tourists have gone home and I am free the roam the dark corridors just taking it all in. I’ve never read Bring up the Bodies – I’m off to Amazon right now! I’ve read pretty much all of Phillippa Gregory’s books and they are so addictive!

    1. SHUT. UP! That’s so amazing!! I would absolutely love a sneak peek if you’re ever allowed to take pictures at your job. I can’t imagine how fascinating that must be, to walk around there and just know all that history happened right where you’re standing. I’m getting the chills just thinking about it! You lucky thing.

      Thanks for the recommendation about Phillippa Gregory, too! That makes two, guess I definitely have to buy one of her books now! xoxo

  7. Oh man, did you ever go to the Tower in London? The ACTUAL beheady-place (technical term) of Anne Boleyn? MACABRE AWESOME!

    It’s nothing historical or creepy-awesome, but I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. It’s about how success is not an isolated incident, rather a chain of events/coincidences/lucky breaks that make these “outliers”. The chapter on why planes crash (due to shitty communication and fear of offending the captain!) was fascinating. It sounds like a dry read, but it was a real page-turner. Er, if you’re a bit of a nerd. Which I am.


    1. Omg, YES. I did the Tower tour twice (say that three times fast) and was sufficiently moved to say the least. Seeing the little moat area they brought people in to? SCARED. Even creepier was Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, which we went to last May. They still have all the ORIGINAL tools they used to torture and behead people on display. There was even access to the basement, where they used to keep the bodies. I went in and got an immediate chill and ran back out. Tooooo creepy for me.

      I’ve heard great things about Outliers! I think that’s a book Boyfriend would adore, if he hasn’t read it already. I’m intrigued by it, now that you’ve explained it! I’m more than a bit of a nerd, fear not. xoxo

  8. I haven’t read Bring Up the Bodies but there’s so much drama and intrigue throughout Tudor England, it makes me shiver. Have you heard about Shooting Victoria? That’s on my to-read list

    1. No, I haven’t! I’ll look into it. I made the lofty goal to read 2+ books a month, I could use all the recommendations I can get! xoxo

  9. I have to admit that I haven’t devoted enough time to this genre. For a short time in our book club, we did get into the Philippa Gregory books, and I did enjoy them. Though, unfortunately, that’s as far as I got. I’m reading a slew of nonfiction right now. I just finished Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and am now reading The Gifts of Imperfection. (I find the study of behavior and culture so fascinating. Nerd alert!) After all this nonfiction, I think I’ll definitely be ready for some good fiction. Something that whisks me away to a whole other world, like those two recommendations above. Thanks, E.

Comments are closed.