Hilary Mantel’s Bringing up the Dead, the second in a planned trilogy on Henry VIII’s right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell, will be out in book stores and online tomorrow. Wolf Hall, her first Cromwell novel, won the prestigious Booker Prize.
A Slate review of Mantel’s new novel linked to a 2010 interview of the author, which is well worth your time. Mantel not only provides some real insight regarding the extent to which her portrayal of Cromwell is linked to the challenges she faced in her own life, she also has some provocative things to say about the state of the modern woman:
‘I think there is this breed of women for whom society’s timetable is completely wrong. We were being educated well into our twenties, an age when some of us wanted to become mothers, probably little bits of all of us. Some, like me… you know, I was perfectly capable of setting up a home when I was 14, and if, say, it had been ordered differently, I might have thought, “Now is the time to have a couple of children, and when I am 30 I will go back and I’ll get my PhD.” But society isn’t yet ordered with that kind of flexibility, and is incredibly hypocritical about teenage sex, teenage mothers and so on.
‘Having sex and having babies is what young women are about,’ Mantel continues. ‘And their instincts are suppressed
in the interests of society’s timetable. And, again, there are other women who think, “I want to push ahead with my life, make a career, success,” then when they are in their late thirties it hits them that there is a part of life they haven’t experienced, and they want it now. If there were some paradise for women, both those models would be valid. I think it is that men’s lives have set the timetable.’