The Other Boleyn Girl (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #9)
Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: The love of a kingWhen Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realises just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take fate into her own hands.A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamourous court in Europe and survived by following her heart.

The Other Boleyn Girl (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #9) Details

TitleThe Other Boleyn Girl (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #9)
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 21st, 2003
PublisherScribner
ISBN0743227441
ISBN-139780743227445
Number of pages661 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Romance

The Other Boleyn Girl (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #9) Review

  • Madeline
    June 2, 2007
    Some people (read: uptight history nerds with nothing better to do) like to get their undies in knots over Philippa Gregory's writing and whine about how she takes too many liberties with history. Well, guess what? She makes it interesting, and since her books are classified as fiction, I think she can be allowed that. Also, I consider myself a history nerd, especially when it comes to the Tudors, and I think Gregory's books are great. The stories surrounding Henry VIII are already really good; Some people (read: uptight history nerds with nothing better to do) like to get their undies in knots over Philippa Gregory's writing and whine about how she takes too many liberties with history. Well, guess what? She makes it interesting, and since her books are classified as fiction, I think she can be allowed that. Also, I consider myself a history nerd, especially when it comes to the Tudors, and I think Gregory's books are great. The stories surrounding Henry VIII are already really good; all Philippa Gregory did was add dialogue and sex scenes that your history teachers pretended never happened. I was also very grateful that she didn't attempt to garner sympathy for Anne Boleyn. I've read a couple novels about her where the author attempts to portray her as an innocent victim and it's just sad. The woman was a manipulative, conniving, intelligent, confident bitch, and The Other Boleyn Girl makes this very clear.Other books in Philippa Gregory's Tudor series that I read and enjoyed: The Virgin's Lover, The Queen's Fool, The Constant Princess, and The Boleyn Inheritance.
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  • Mandy
    May 18, 2007
    Disclaimer: Don't confuse this book with a biography of Mary Boleyn. It's fiction all the way. It's a good read when you remember that this is fiction and not a blow-by-blow account of historical events. And because it is fiction, Gregory is able to play a little fast and loose with historical fact. Mary was most likely the oldest Boleyn child, not the youngest as presented here. She had also served the French kings court, just as Anne did, but was sent home in disgrace after tales of her promis Disclaimer: Don't confuse this book with a biography of Mary Boleyn. It's fiction all the way. It's a good read when you remember that this is fiction and not a blow-by-blow account of historical events. And because it is fiction, Gregory is able to play a little fast and loose with historical fact. Mary was most likely the oldest Boleyn child, not the youngest as presented here. She had also served the French kings court, just as Anne did, but was sent home in disgrace after tales of her promiscuity got out, including the fact that she was probably also that king's mistress. She was probably not the young, inexperienced girl Gregory chooses to portray her as. Gregory also depends heavily on Retha Warnicke's thesis that a homosexual ring surrounded Anne and included her brother George. This has been widely discredited by historians, since both Anne and George were very religious, and George was also a renowned womanizer. Otherwise, it was a decent book. There were parts I thought went a little far, especially with Mary and George teaching Anne "whore's tricks" to woo the king without actually having sex with him. Granted, activity like this may have happened, but I don't necessarily want to read about it. I loved the love story between Mary and William Stafford, and would have liked to seen more of the relationship between Anne and Henry, when they were younger, seemingly in love, and she was as much a partner and advisor in his affairs as king (especially in religious thinking and such) as any man at court. Somehow though, this book has tarnished my romanticized concept of courtly behavior. It's horrifying to consider that some of the political wrangling and the use of women as temptations, mistresses, and pawns to rise in society, titles, and the court probably happened, at least to some extent. If this was the way life was in those days, I would hope that I was a commoner. Because being in the court and used as someone's chattel to get what they wanted with no regard for my desires or who I loved would have been awful.
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  • Sally
    March 12, 2008
    I picked this one up at work because I want to see the movie (hello, Scarlett Johansen and Natalie Portman? Yes please), and because I know I'll have thousands of people asking me about it, like with Atonement, which I never read. In short, this book sucks. It's the worst kind of historical fiction - light on the history, and not fun or well written to make up for it. The characters are one dimensional, the writing is trite and full of cliches. Complete trash, but I'm not putting it on my enjoya I picked this one up at work because I want to see the movie (hello, Scarlett Johansen and Natalie Portman? Yes please), and because I know I'll have thousands of people asking me about it, like with Atonement, which I never read. In short, this book sucks. It's the worst kind of historical fiction - light on the history, and not fun or well written to make up for it. The characters are one dimensional, the writing is trite and full of cliches. Complete trash, but I'm not putting it on my enjoyable trash shelf, because it's not particularly enjoyable. The worst thing about this book was how blatantly obvious it was that Gregory hates Anne Boleyn. Mary may have been the narrator, but Anne was without doubt the main character, and it is impossible to enjoy a book where the author goes all out to make you hate the main character. Especially a badly written main character. Anyone who has done any literary criticism, or any writing, will know that good characterisation involves showing, not telling. We're told how charming and witty Anne is to the King, but we're shown her being a bitch and arguing with Mary. Anne would have been a much more effective character if she'd been written like her brother George (the only likeable character in the whole book), who IS charming and witty, will stab you in the back if it suits him, but then admit to it with a disarming honesty. If she'd been charming but manipulative to everyone, including Mary, her seduction of the King would have been much more plausible, but as it was I just couldn't see it. Then there's the way Gregory manipulates historical fact in order to make Anne seem worse. Anne was clever, and well educated, all we got from that was that she spoke French and read a lot, but in reality her education and ability to discuss politics and serious issues with Henry was a significant attraction. And there was the love affair with Henry Percy. Anne admits to her sworn enemy that she has slept with her betrothed, and he says, no you didn't because it isn't politically convenient for you to marry him and later doesn't tell the king even when he's in a precarious political position because of Anne. WTF plothole??Next we have the incest and the witchcraft, both of which Gregory paints as true. No, seriously. As far as incest goes, well, who the hell would sleep with their own brother? Apart from the fact that it's generally acknowledged that it was just a means of getting rid of them. As for witchcraft, well she was a devout Christian, and again, it's generally thought to be a convenient pretext. The whole enmity between sisters thing is a creation, which would be fair enough, poetic license, dramatic tension, etc etc. Except Mary hates Anne, and yet she's always doing what she's told, helping Anne out, blah blah. She'll occasionally say that of course she loves her she's her sister, but we're told far more often and with far more vehemence how much she hates her, and all we're shown is the fights and the vindictiveness. Again, this is mostly because Gregory hates Anne. She seems to like Mary, although if the real Mary was anything like the characterisation then I can't see why. Gregory's Mary is insipid, whiny and spineless, and pretty much irritates the hell out of me. And then we get the whole "wanting to marry for love and not power as a feminist statement" thing that Gregory does with Mary, while we are told Anne, who had power and intelligence in her own right, is a spineless pawn in a man's game of politics. She couldn't possibly have been regent of England without her uncle's help, we are told. This of the woman who split the church, dethroned a queen, and was mother to Queen Elizabeth.In the Author's note Gregory cites Retha Warnicke's The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn as one of her main sources, which according to Wikipedia (I know, Wikipedia, but still), is generally considered to be unsubstantiated which explains some of this. She also expresses admiration for Queen Elizabeth I, which I found rather ironic considering she is Anne's daughter and Anne and Elizabeth seem to me to have been very similar in character as well as ability.
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  • Meaghan
    September 28, 2007
    The thing you must realize about this book is that it is, first and foremost, a novel. A novel based on actual historical events, yes, but still a work of fiction. So for those that criticize it for its historical inaccuracy, your criticism is misplaced. This is not a biography of Mary Boleyn or Anne Boleyn and it doesn't pretend to be.I myself am a bit of a Tudor junkie and love reading both fiction and nonfiction about the family and the times, and I found this book a delight. It had all the e The thing you must realize about this book is that it is, first and foremost, a novel. A novel based on actual historical events, yes, but still a work of fiction. So for those that criticize it for its historical inaccuracy, your criticism is misplaced. This is not a biography of Mary Boleyn or Anne Boleyn and it doesn't pretend to be.I myself am a bit of a Tudor junkie and love reading both fiction and nonfiction about the family and the times, and I found this book a delight. It had all the elements of a good story: sex, love, violence, suspense, complicated characters, and comic relief. My favorite character was George Boleyn, due to his wit, probably the funniest one in the story. Catherine of Aragon I think was the most true-to-life.My only complaints about the story (historical inaccuracy aside, as I said above that doesn't have to be an issue here) are that sometimes it sounds like a Harlequin romance novel, and also it's very slow-moving. But if you are willing to wait through the long beginning I think you will find yourself well rewarded.A word of advice, though: skip the movie. It was dreadful.
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  • Cindy
    April 7, 2008
    I love anything that has to do with English History and really am kinda fascinated by Henry VIII. After reading so many good things on here and elsewhere about this book I was looking forward to it. At about 100 pages into it I thought I really was enjoying it. Too bad the book didn't end at page 200. Because I hated this book with a passion. I don't even know where to start with it. First you have the writing style which is written by Mary Boylen's POV. Which is fine. But every character in thi I love anything that has to do with English History and really am kinda fascinated by Henry VIII. After reading so many good things on here and elsewhere about this book I was looking forward to it. At about 100 pages into it I thought I really was enjoying it. Too bad the book didn't end at page 200. Because I hated this book with a passion. I don't even know where to start with it. First you have the writing style which is written by Mary Boylen's POV. Which is fine. But every character in this book is one sided. Mary hasn't a brain for herself, Henry is a lustfilled king (that may be true), the Queen is soooooo smart but doesn't know what is going on. And Anne Boleyn is this hateful person that makes the reader want to kill her before she even is sent to the axe. There was also the same use of phrases over and over again. "You're just the other Bolyn Girl, we don't like you"...."I am Queen", "You are a whore" it's almost like the author has a limited vocabulary and wanted us to know it. Second thing I hated was that there wasn't one ounce of family love, or loyalty about anyone. I know there is the family games going on in England, but not one guy thought about his daughter as anything more then a piece of old meat. That really really bothered me. Third, this book had more details about sex then porn. I really wanted to hope the movie would be good and people have complained the movie is nothing like the book, which is obvious because if it was like the book it would be in the XXX section of the video stores. Fourth, There were parts that focused on things that didn't matter. 5 pages about a tennis tournament that made you say "Why do I care about this". It's like the author had a goal page amount and she was going to go above and beyond it. Lastly, the topic of Homosexuality and incest. Yes this is a theory out there about Anne but did the WHOLE book have to focus on it. Anne's brother was this neck kissing, french kissing sister lover the whole entire book. Anne was this girl that was always hot for her brother regardless of anything. Great way to branch out there! Overall I hated this book.
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  • Jason Koivu
    February 28, 2012
    You've probably never heard of The Other Boleyn Girl. It's not very popular. I think a movie got made out of it, but I doubt anyone watched it.Those are the kind of lies, mistruths and distortions that one person can perpetuate when they don't check their facts or worse, intentionally distort the facts. But more on that later.The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of Mary Boleyn, the could've-been-queen courtier during King Henry VIII's tumultuous reign. Little is known about Mary, other than that s You've probably never heard of The Other Boleyn Girl. It's not very popular. I think a movie got made out of it, but I doubt anyone watched it.Those are the kind of lies, mistruths and distortions that one person can perpetuate when they don't check their facts or worse, intentionally distort the facts. But more on that later.The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of Mary Boleyn, the could've-been-queen courtier during King Henry VIII's tumultuous reign. Little is known about Mary, other than that she was the sister of one of the most well-known women in all of history. This is a historical fiction writer's DREAM! She is a malleable, yet important figure orbiting world-changing events. A crafty author can do a lot with just such a character.Philippa Gregory decided to turn her into the tool of the Boleyns. Mary is offered up by her parents and pushed ahead like a pawn by her ambitious uncle in the Boleyn/Howard campaign for power. She is assisted by her brother and sister, who later set her aside after the king's done with her, in order to put Anne on the throne. Mary's portrait as painted by Gregory is a sympathetic one indeed.Did Gregory charge her palette with true colors? It's said that she likes to do historical research. Me, I like historical fiction that's well researched. I don't like it when a writer does a little research, latches on to something like an archaic term or whatever, and then proceeds to use that thing in their novel like it's going out of bloody style! (If I ever hear the word stomacher again, it'll be too damn soon!) Simply adding the occasional period piece decor and nothing more does not make a good read in this genre.I doubt that much historical accuracy was attended to in the making of this book. There are notable inaccuracies. I'll give you one. Mary was not the baby of the family as Gregory asserts, but rather the eldest of the three siblings. But we've got to be honest with ourselves as readers. Factual history must sometimes be set aside, because that's not what's important in this genre. The Other Boleyn Girl isn't a textbook, it's a novel. It's meant to entice and titillate. Dramatic effect and setting the mood is more important than "getting it right". Taken for what it is, this book excels. At times, it's exciting and tense. At times, it pulls at the heart. There are moments when this is drama at its best.However, taken as a whole, this is not Gregory's best work. The occasionally amateurish writing made me think it was her first published work, but it's not. I read something by her published ten years after this and her writing showed marked improvement, the nuggets from her historical research were inserted more smoothly and everything felt a good deal tighter. This mammoth book on the other hand feels ponderous. At one point I thought to myself, "I bet she wishes she could have a redo on this one," but that ain't gonna happen since everybody and their grandma has read it.
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  • Sara W
    September 17, 2007
    I got through 25 pages of this book and had enough! I wrote down (literally - I had a pen and paper with me after the reading the first page or two) so many historical inaccuracies that I thought my head would explode. Then I checked out reviews on Amazon and realized the book would get much, much worse. As strictly a novel, this might be a great book, and I do hope to pick it up again with the mind-set that it is strictly fiction because I might be able to enjoy it then. But as a book dealing w I got through 25 pages of this book and had enough! I wrote down (literally - I had a pen and paper with me after the reading the first page or two) so many historical inaccuracies that I thought my head would explode. Then I checked out reviews on Amazon and realized the book would get much, much worse. As strictly a novel, this might be a great book, and I do hope to pick it up again with the mind-set that it is strictly fiction because I might be able to enjoy it then. But as a book dealing with Mary and Anne and George Boleyn, it is awful. Why did Philippa Gregory feel the need to use historical figures if she was just going to make up the story? I might have enjoyed this book if it was two fictional sisters! What's frustrating is that people think this book is historically accurate, and it doesn't come close. I was a history major, and I've read tons of non-fiction books about Anne and Henry and the Tudors, and I hate it when people quote this book as fact (which many, many people do)! By all means, if you want to read this book, do so, because it is wildly popular (a lot of my friends love it and I'm sorry if you hate this review), but PLEASE read a reputable non-fiction book about these people as well or at least a better researched novel about them!**November 2010 Update - I've gotten through half this book and stand by what I wrote in 2008. I plan on finishing it, but at a later time.
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  • Stella
    June 16, 2008
    OK firstly, there's no doubt that Philippa Gregory can write a good story. Her prose is engaging and the content fThe Other Boleyn girl was easy to read.However what put me off was the absolute ignorance of historical fact and total villification of Anne Boleyn - yes this is a fictional interpretation but now it has made it to the big screen, there are a few who will think this is what really happened.Ms. Gregory describes Mary Boleyn as her personal heroine and this bias is clear through the bo OK firstly, there's no doubt that Philippa Gregory can write a good story. Her prose is engaging and the content fThe Other Boleyn girl was easy to read.However what put me off was the absolute ignorance of historical fact and total villification of Anne Boleyn - yes this is a fictional interpretation but now it has made it to the big screen, there are a few who will think this is what really happened.Ms. Gregory describes Mary Boleyn as her personal heroine and this bias is clear through the book. A very dark picture of a woman without feeling (except fear and arrogance) or conscience is painted of Anne Boleyn. This I do not agree with.In fact it is widely accepted by historians that Anne was the younger sister not Mary, that in fact, Anne was a very loving Mother to Elizabeth, that she was not universally hated by the British people and even her dignity and composure in death, with her documented last words being a tribute to the King, are denied in this version of events.Taking the historical innaccuracies aside, as a woman, Anne is painted as the cause of Henry becoming a tyrant, as the reason women had to live in fear that they could be cast aside and so she had her just desserts when Henry cast her aside. Let us not forget that Henry was actually the one who was married - Anne was just a teenager when she met him and a pawn in a political game. Henry is responsible for his own behaviour, not Anne, his own greed, arrogance and increasing desperation for a son are the reason he became a tyrant, not Anne. For he himself had many other wives after he disposed of her ad his pattern of behaviour continued. To absolve him of this and place the blame at Anne's door is a shocking error in this book. In addition, yes Anne and Henry paved the way forward for divorce in this country - Anne helped changed history and who knows what would've happened otherwise. Yes there may have been wives cast aside as a result but at least they are saved a life with someone who cannot stay faithful or whatever. And look how many wives can walk away from a bad marraige, an abusive one, an unhappy one, as a result of this young woman's bravery in taking on a King and country.It is widely accepted that Anne also had an impact in the improved relations with France when she accompanied Henry to the Court. The trip is documented in the book however once again Anne's significant role in these relations, her exceptional intelligence and wit, her educational background in the French court and her overall contribution are completely undermined and glossed over in this book.It is also documented in history that the saintly, oh so pure of heart, so good Mary as portrayed by Ms. Gregory, went nowhere near Anne or her brother when they were sent to the Tower and did not see them for some time before that happening. Her support was as absent as she was - preferring to keep her distance and save her good self perhaps? Who knows. OK rewrite history in an entertaining fictional read - fine. But to completely and unneccesarily villify one woman at the expense of another,a nd more or less absolve the shocking behaviour of a man, a Kig no less, is really not a great message for woman in this day and age in my opinion.And that is what grates me about the book - what is says about women when a strong and intelligent young woman like Anne Boleyn who certainly did not deserve her unfortunate demise, is portrayed as some Machiavellian villain rather than the brave woman she was and the positive contributions she made to the development of this country for the role of women (I'm a Catholic so I'm not talking religiously, THAT is a completely different matter!. Shocking. Would not recommend this book as a result.
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  • Phrynne
    October 18, 2015
    An enjoyable read but I am afraid Wolf Hall has ruined me for historical fiction set in this period. I kept waiting for Cromwell to walk in and organise everything! There has been a lot of criticism about this book being light on historical fact but since it is fiction I did not mind that. I wondered if it limited itself by telling it through the character of Mary. She was not a very politically aware or even especially intelligent person and seeing the story unfold though her eyes alone made it An enjoyable read but I am afraid Wolf Hall has ruined me for historical fiction set in this period. I kept waiting for Cromwell to walk in and organise everything! There has been a lot of criticism about this book being light on historical fact but since it is fiction I did not mind that. I wondered if it limited itself by telling it through the character of Mary. She was not a very politically aware or even especially intelligent person and seeing the story unfold though her eyes alone made it a little less gripping than it could have been. Still a good easy read with an interesting take on the relationship between the Boleyn siblings.
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  • Kiki
    August 14, 2014
    I have no time for authors - nay, anyone, who shit-talks Anne Boleyn. Don't come up to me and run your mouth about my beloved unless you want a good smack in the chops. You have been warned.
  • Asghar Abbas
    January 7, 2016
    First time I was introduced to Anne Boleyn and I have been infatuated with her ever since, her cause my own and my own quite forgotten. Happily so. Recklessly so. So, Gregory gets props for that but nought for much else, see not all is forgiven not even close. Because I completely, utterly, vehemently resent Gregory's depiction of Anne in this book. And After watching Natalie Dormer perform Anne, yes perform ; no other word for it, oh boy, no one else can ever be Anne Boleyn for me. Dormer anima First time I was introduced to Anne Boleyn and I have been infatuated with her ever since, her cause my own and my own quite forgotten. Happily so. Recklessly so. So, Gregory gets props for that but nought for much else, see not all is forgiven not even close. Because I completely, utterly, vehemently resent Gregory's depiction of Anne in this book. And After watching Natalie Dormer perform Anne, yes perform ; no other word for it, oh boy, no one else can ever be Anne Boleyn for me. Dormer animated her character so uncannily she became Anne in flesh and bones, bringing her to life in a way that's a little hard to describe, and all I want to do is describe it, all of it. It's even harder to watch her be that vulnerable, but so so arrogant, she showed us Anne just couldn't help herself. Dormer was straight up necromancer, a clairvoyant, a ventriloquist what the heck for good measure a soothsayer too, all rolled into one. She wasn't playing a role, she was conducting a séance being the perfect conduit herself. So if you haven't seen Natalie Dormer do her thing, watch the Tudors, watch it, watch her bewitch the sun with her pale, pale skin.But we were talking about this book, sadly. Sigh. I think Philippa Gregory is every historian's, serious or casual, migraine. See, Gregory took an intriguing slice of history, a very exciting time to say the least, and turned that basically into a soap opera, not even a good one. She trivialized important events, she belittled significant players, she over blew people who had no impact on this phase. Every page of this history was fair game to her, subjected to her whims, to turn it around as she willed. She changed things without offering any factual backings or historical evidence. Two prime examples of her misconduct being making Mary Boleyn younger than her sister Anne, and accentuating that her children were sired by Henry VIII. There is nothing there in the annals to suggest that was the case. Henry before getting mixed up with Mary had acknowledged other illegitimate off springs. So, it's not like he was averse to making such things public. Though Henry VIII was bit of a right bastard himself. But that's neither here nor there. Somewhere along the way, Gregory decided she liked The Other Boleyn Girl better, but it was a conscious decision . A calculated move. She made Mary innocuous of all of this, all the plotting to gain favors that couldn't last, hasty grab for power like she was just a naive pawn in this and did as her family bid her. She was shown as an unwitting, unwillingly player. Not even a slight mention of being the English Mare, was laughable here. When Mary had to go do the King, it was all pure and she was in love of course, and but when it was Anne's turn, it was all evil. Haha, yeah right. No one was innocent of playing that game, they were all in it, all were equally guilty of trying to advance the Boleyn family, that was how it went then, that was the game they were playing, well aware they'd pay dearly if it didn't pan out and boy did they pay, or did they? Hey like Martin says when you play make sure you win or you know, you are gonna die. But none of them were innocuous in all of that, not even Anne but especially not Mary. And she wasn't even a major player like Gregory made her out to be. However.To me Anne Boleyn felt innocuous you know, but like music innocuous of her surroundings and what she did to people, she was like that. But the more Philippa Gregory tried to beatify Mary into this Saint the more she needed to make Anne a monster she clearly wasn't, a villain she never was. Sometimes unnecessarily so, to the point of senselessness, after a while the whole Anne-shaming just became nonsensical, making a vastly talented writer look stupid. Did she really believe that, that that's how everything happened? Gregory blamed Anne for everything, every single solitary thing that she could blame Anne for she did. I mean everything, not a single thing that could be missed was missed. Gregory charged Anne with the charges that were once laid at her feet, charges she has long since been acquitted of..... from people better and far more legitimate than Gregory. Oh man, no one distorts history with such aplomb quite like Philippa Gregory does. I don't think Mary Boleyn was ever that important, she was just too omnipresent of a witness in this novel , or Anne Boleyn that regular. I think the history doesn't believe the sisters were that particularly close as they were made out to be here.As far as introductions goes this book was a pretty good one, but the way Anne was portrayed is still so very unforgivable, it still rankles. She wasn't some mean one track high school drama queen. She was a better musician than that. Look, okay yes she wasn't infallible. She wasn't blameless of her downfall, demise, she practically designed her own destruction, but Anne, Anne made a dent on history and for better or worst changed courses of rivers in her country, in the lonely country where she died alone. But who could deny her contributions? Her fiery intelligence still burns to this day, my mind is on fire still. And let's not forget it was her daughter Elizabeth who reigned the longest among all the Tudor children. She made England strong again, rich again bringing about the Age of Her, before Elizabeth England was a relatively poor country, intellectually and financially. It was during these times arts of all kinds and music of every type flourished. Advent of English Renaissance happened in Elizabeth's lifetime, English were late bloomers both to the arts revival and settling in the New World, always late to the party tsk tsk. You know Shakespeare (whoever he really was), right? Of course you do. He was totally there in her era too, sure he was promulgating old Tudor lies about Richard III, but we are not grudging him that, a man gotta eat, make art and all that. Hey, no listen, I am completely against monarchy but that's another topic, my point was Anne's legacy and the impact she was directly responsible for. I really dislike monarchy so very much. Lemme illustrate that with a quote by Denis Diderot, don't go anywhere :Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.OK, back to this book. Let's be fair, I guess one thing that I did agree with was Gregory's exhibition of Henry VIII. I agree with how she presented that animal in her book. Though I'll admit Jonathan Rhys Meyers tried to domesticate him, he did try to make him human, but there's no humanizing something that is not human by definition ; a monarch. Henry throughout his miserable life suffered from severe complexes and delusions of grandeur, probably even masculinity issues. The Other Boleyn Girl showed Henry as a spoiled brat, well every prince is but I don't think that was it. Henry was a shrewd and sly statesman, who managed to keep the country from being torn apart despite doing everything he could to alienate everyone from common farmers to the Catholic Church with his antics, still he didn't let his country engulf in utter chaos he managed to hold it all together, so there is that. He did manage to keep everything intact, just about. Even in 2008, when I first read this book I thought it was very simplistic to make him a spoiled child who pouts whenever he doesn't gets his way. There's more to it than that. It always is. I think our drear boy had been living under the cold shadows of his father for far too long. So he ended up overcompensating everything. I feel Henry VIII was under the illusion that Henry Tudor had performed great feats on the battlefields, haha right. *coughJasperTudordidallthework*cough So therefore little Henry went looking for glory in all the wrong places and failing miserably in every one of them, well at least warring with France never bore him any real fruits. He wanted more than that chair, in that he was like Robert Baratheon, he got the throne but he didn't know what to do with it. He just wanted to do great things, but the only great thing he truly did was to marry Anne. Say what you will about Richard III but he was a warrior, all his blunders aside, at least Richard didn't have any qualms about what he was, he wasn't confused about himself. Despite all his flaws, all the mistakes he made Richard wasn't delusional. Plus, I believe Henry VIII did go really insane later on, too many bumps on the head, got knocked down too many times jousting. A lot of people remark on Henry's madness as bipolar, at least that's the explanation they offer for all his offing with the people's heads, anyone who displeased him basically. But I wouldn't associate a serious mental affliction with the king or insult people suffering from it, it feels too much like an excuse for his behavior that bore out of his personality and was on him alone. Though a serious head injury is a much more plausible explanation.Oh, I just remember something! When I was reading this book something occurred to me. I realized with a sinking feeling, what a sunken feeling it was indeed, Anne Boleyn's story was just another retelling of Elizabeth Woodville's story. Think about it, both their rise and fall is parallel. It's tragic and essentially the same, well almost; Woodville didn't lose her head, well at least not that way. And Henry VIII is her grandson and Anne named her Daughter after his mother. Woa. Shouldn't have taken both pills and now they are not mixing well. I shouldn't have followed the White Rabbit down to this warren. Um, how to get out ? Okay got it. No, don't get me wrong this is a well written book and very entertaining, yes we are still talking about the book, I wasn't digressing, but it's also salacious, malicious propaganda against Anne Boleyn. I am calling it what it is; a smear campaign and I doth protest. But some aspects of it were very vulgar and dreck. During those parts it felt like it was written by Jackie Collins on cocaine. I'll never forgive Philippa Gregory for making utter these two words Jackie Collins, I feel like I already need a shower. By the end of this novel, even the despicable Gregory had to admit Anne was innocent of all the extramarital affairs she was accused of, they were just trumped up charges and completely baseless. The only thing she insisted, almost pathologically, Anne was guilty of- the one thing that almost all historians have absolved her of- the incestuous angle. While I am at it, I'll blame Gregory for the abysmal Other Boleyn Girl movie too. Arguably, Gregory has popularize the historical fiction genre, but read Sharon Kay Penman's books instead, especially The Sunne in Splendour which while not pitch perfect, I guarantee you is way better, sure I had my own problems with it but they were for personal reasons, nothing to do with excellence that is Penman's work. Quick, someone make a Sunne in Splendour movie. With a moving sound track. I sure hope the ghost of George Boleyn haunts Philippa Gregory, George who most historian agree was homosexual, but whether or not he consorted with the Queen is unclear and quite frankly irrelevant, why would he do that? You want to discredit someone you don't like? Spread the word they are fucking their sibling; boom! Instantly ostracized they will be. Of course, it's an easy and ugly accusation to sling at then as much as now. Same thing happened with the Borgias, the fact that the Borgias were demented is beside the point. So yeah I do hope George Boleyn haunts Gregory. You know what, I am taking back one star from the ratings. I had originally given it four stars, four stars not because of Gregory's sensationalized writing style, but because I get to meet Anne whom irrespective of Gregory I still liked enough to follow and mostly because I am still in love with the year 2008. AnneAnne, darling don't let anyone dissuade you from wearing yellow, it's your color, it's your mouth, you can do whatever you want with it. No matter if the shock of your yellow is making the sun shy away from you. It's not your fault the big yoke in the sky can't handle your colors. It's entirely the sun's loss he couldn't love you more openly. Lemons are all there are, you are still a cloth of gold and Sigur Rós are singing for you.I don't think I am even ashes now, so I' ll leave this half finished ode with two of my favorite quotes ; one from Anne and one about Anne.Seduce me. Write letters to me. And poems, I love poems. Ravish me with your words. Seduce me.Lady Anne is so beautiful, it is the duty of every man to love her. -Thomas Wyatt ; The Tudors.footnote : while I was composing this I was listening to Sláinte Mhath. Whilst editing it, I had to listen to Como poden per sas culpas, Cantiga 166. You should listen to it, it will make you feel....things, it'll make you feel the night. Like my own Anne makes me feel everything and nothing at the same time.
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  • Amy (Foxy)
    November 21, 2014
    Well, this bites! I got a digital copy from my library and after 6 hours of listening to the audio it just ended. ✦✦✦✦UPDATE:✦✦✦✦Well, I guess, I should have paid better attention to what I check out from the library. Apparently, the library only has the abridged version. SIGH!!! Even though I didn't get the full version of this book I was not feeling it. I felt like something was missing... what was missing? I'm not sure but I needed more. I have not seen the movie adaption of this book but I'm Well, this bites! I got a digital copy from my library and after 6 hours of listening to the audio it just ended. ✦✦✦✦UPDATE:✦✦✦✦Well, I guess, I should have paid better attention to what I check out from the library. Apparently, the library only has the abridged version. SIGH!!! Even though I didn't get the full version of this book I was not feeling it. I felt like something was missing... what was missing? I'm not sure but I needed more. I have not seen the movie adaption of this book but I'm interested in watching it. Guess, I'll need to check if it's on Netflix.
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  • Markus
    February 21, 2016
    Well, then...Reviewing this book should be more fun than reading it, but since I'm not in the mood to deal with rabid fangirls (yes, I very consciously use a term describing only one gender), I'm not sure if I want to risk criticising such an amazingly overrated book.The book does have some redeeming qualities, and luckily I feel that most of my disappointment lies with this book specifically and not with Philippa Gregory as an author, so I'll happily read more by her.
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  • Linda
    August 14, 2007
    This book is pure trash. Simple as that. I was kind of embarrassed reading it. It reads something like a Danielle Steel novel wannabe. Not to knock Danielle Steel cause I'm certainly guilty of reading a number of Danielle Steele. (Tho in truth it was when I was much younger so I really didn't know any better.)So back to "The Other Boleyn Girl" being pure trash. It's crazy for me to make such a harsh claim cause: 1. I love historical fiction-- always have. Even since fifth grade I can remember! a This book is pure trash. Simple as that. I was kind of embarrassed reading it. It reads something like a Danielle Steel novel wannabe. Not to knock Danielle Steel cause I'm certainly guilty of reading a number of Danielle Steele. (Tho in truth it was when I was much younger so I really didn't know any better.)So back to "The Other Boleyn Girl" being pure trash. It's crazy for me to make such a harsh claim cause: 1. I love historical fiction-- always have. Even since fifth grade I can remember! and 2. the plot is boiling great. You couldn't make this stuff up it's so rich! and crazy!! and debauched!!! But for all the real life grandness of it, Phillipa Gregory gives the events a small and somehow unrealistic dimension. Her words bely the fact that the fate of nations are at stake, political courses, the role of religion. It's all at play and somehow unreal and soap opera-ish. Mary and Jane are two girls staight out of Sex and City set in 1545 (except without the wit and charm of Carrie and her happy comrades). I think the truth is that Phillipa Gregory is only able to give readers the surface of an event. I feel like there is no depth of emotion of subtlety or nuance. Hopefully the movie will do better! But with Natalie Portman and Scarlet Johanson as the leads I'm sure we can expect better that the book version.
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  • Felicia
    November 7, 2013
    This was the november pick for Vaginal Fantasy Book club and I LOVED it! I have always been fond of the Tudors, as a kid I always fancied myself somewhat of an Anne Boleyn lover, she was my favorite of the poor wives, so this delving into her history, and her sister's especially, was super fascinating. It isn't a standard smutty romance, and you end up sympathizing a lot with how women were treated, how Henry the 8th behaved and WHY he did what he did. I have done some research (ie read Wikipedi This was the november pick for Vaginal Fantasy Book club and I LOVED it! I have always been fond of the Tudors, as a kid I always fancied myself somewhat of an Anne Boleyn lover, she was my favorite of the poor wives, so this delving into her history, and her sister's especially, was super fascinating. It isn't a standard smutty romance, and you end up sympathizing a lot with how women were treated, how Henry the 8th behaved and WHY he did what he did. I have done some research (ie read Wikipedia haha) since, and of course this isn't TOTALLY accurate, but the drama of it is very entertaining in a sort of soapy-history sort of way.
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  • Iset
    February 13, 2011
    The book is in outward appearances the same length as "The Constant Princess" and "The Boleyn Inheritance", but is actually a longer work, as is revealed when one realises that the font size is considerably smaller than the two aforementioned novels. The up side of this is that at least "The Other Boleyn Girl" has more of a story than the wafer thin plot of the other two. This is not however enough to make it into a good book. The writing itself is of low quality, many scenes are redundant, drag The book is in outward appearances the same length as "The Constant Princess" and "The Boleyn Inheritance", but is actually a longer work, as is revealed when one realises that the font size is considerably smaller than the two aforementioned novels. The up side of this is that at least "The Other Boleyn Girl" has more of a story than the wafer thin plot of the other two. This is not however enough to make it into a good book. The writing itself is of low quality, many scenes are redundant, drag with little or no purpose, and the descriptions and dialogue are lacking sophistication. The book butchers the historical fact, an issue which I'll examine shortly, but in many areas it also fails logically too, for example the idea that if Anne wanted to risk conceiving from another man then her brother George would be the obvious choice, or that Mary Boleyn would have actually done the work of a peasant farmer's wife. The so called plot revolves around the sensationalist scandals surrounding Mary and Anne Boleyn, in what Philippa Gregory laughably claims is a completely historically accurate portrayal, reducing the international political and ethical complexities of the period to the contents of a modern celebrity gossip magazine. She also inexcusably allows anachronisms to permeate the novel, turning the well-spoken Anne Boleyn into a foul-mouthed harpy. The novel, like her others, unfortunately succumbs to "tell" rather than "show" on far too many occasions.To be brutally honest, I found it difficult to get through the book because it was so awful, and one of the biggest problems was with the main character, Mary Boleyn. The issues with her character overlap with the problems of historical accuracy in the book, since Gregory ignores certain historical facts and cherry picks from controversial discredited theories to create the Mary Boleyn character. It should thus be noted that the Mary Boleyn I am about to describe from the book bears no resemblance to the real life person. She is completely innocent, in stark contrast to every other character (including Jane Seymour who acts holier-than-thou but since Mary dislikes her, we know she's only putting it on), except perhaps Queen Katherine. She is portrayed as passive, naive, slow-witted, submissive to the authority figures in her life even when they are morally wrong, and all that is pure and virtuous in the world. She is always ethically and morally right, despite having some quite ugly opinions of other people and undertaking questionable actions. She cuckolds her husband and has a sexual affair with the king - but it's alright because Mary is truly in love with him. She betrays her mistress, the queen, by engaging in aforementioned affair and furthermore reporting the queen's secret correspondence to her relatives and betraying her - but it's alright because Mary constantly talks about how virtuous Katherine is and how she admires her. Mary is never reviled by the other characters, and is only once or twice called offensive insults, but only by stereotypical bad characters. In contrast, when Anne is with the king, she is single and has no husband to betray, and yet she is in the wrong because her love for Henry is not the innocent pure love of Mary. When Mary teaches Anne the techniques to keep Henry happy, Anne is spat at and insulted by everyone despite having learned them from Mary.In short, this Mary Boleyn is bland, boring and one-dimensional. I hated her because she was a drip and a doormat, and a dictionary definition of a Purity Sue. Worst of all, Mary is held up as something to be admired. It's obvious that since Mary is supposed to be the character the readers identify with (Gregory thinks that making her unfailingly innocent and plopping her down in an unrealistic world of caricature villains will achieve this) and can do no wrong, her fate is supposed to be something to aspire to. We too, the readers are told, should try to be placid and obedient and prefer the life of an impoverished country idyll married to the stereotypical poor but honest man. Gregory hit upon a good idea of writing a book about the forgotten sister of Anne Boleyn, but in throwing all known historical fact out of the window, she might as well have written a novel about a completely fictional king and two sisters competing for his love.As obvious as it is that Philippa Gregory adores Mary Boleyn, it is equally plain that she loathes Anne Boleyn. Anne, the devout, clever and generous woman of history is nowhere in evidence here. Instead she's been replaced by a character of the same name who is instead petty, vain, cruel, possessive, and whose wit and intelligence is painted as a negative character trait for a woman to possess. Her story in this novel revolves around sensationalist twaddle such as incest with her brother, deformed babies resulting from aforementioned sinful union, attempted poisonings of Princess Mary and Bishop Fisher, and using witchcraft to have an abortion. The other characters are equally implausible and one-dimensional, from the saintly Katherine of Aragon to the irredeemable greed and ambition of Thomas Boleyn, his wife Elizabeth and her brother the Duke of Norfolk, and as for Henry VIII he was simply a mixture of stupid and petulant. None of these characters have any depth or believability.Finally, a particular word must be made in the historical accuracy stakes about Mary Boleyn's fate. Philippa Gregory has her riding off to find Stafford and marry him, and she lives in a small farmhouse cottage with him with some farmland. When Stafford is at court, we are told, he employs local tenants to keep this house and farm the lands, but when he is present he apparently sends his tenants away and takes up the plough himself. We are even treated to preposterous scenes where Mary describes how, following her marriage to Stafford, she learns how to cook, smoke ham, light a fire, churn butter, make cheese, bake bread and pluck birds. She even declares how much she is looking forwards to being a farmer's wife. This is all patently ridiculous. Either Gregory has a completely erroneous idea of just what class and standard of living gentry had, or she has a completely erroneous idea of farm life, imagining it to be a country idyll like Marie Antoinette's mock shepherdess residence at La Petite Trianon with no conception of the constant hard work involved. The real Mary Boleyn, judging from her stream of letters to her family and the king, was desperate to return to court and escape even the life of the country gentlewoman. She certainly wouldn't have contemplated undertaking manual labour.These, and many more patently deliberately chosen inaccuracies in the book and about the characters had me shaking my head, and it was a strain not to throw the book down in anger at the disservice done to the historical people here, including Mary Boleyn herself who clearly had a much more interesting personality and life than the simpering drip of this novel. The only reason I curbed that urge was to avoid accusations that this review could not possibly be an accurate reflection of the novel if I had not read it all the way to the end. I appreciate that authors have a right to literary license, to fill in the gaps in history in their historical fiction, and maybe even to alter or reinterpret a few facts here and there, but the polite thing to do when an author does that is to admit to the alterations in the author's note, explaining where and why you did it and what actually happened. That way it openly acknowledges where the story has diverged from fact and helpfully informs the reader which bits in particular have been changed by the author and are not in fact accurate. The vast majority of people reading it won't be knowledgeable about the period, or historians, and could come away from this novel with a very skewed and in many places wrong idea about who these people were and what really happened. As a result, most people's idea of Anne Boleyn for the next generation or two is now going to be of a cruel, scheming harpy.In historical fiction, based closely of real life events and people in the past, I believe that authors have a responsibility to be as accurate and as true to life as possible, or else freely admit their alterations, to do justice to the men and women who lived through it, otherwise it is ultimately doing those men and women a grave disservice.
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  • Edallia
    February 25, 2008
    I will review this festering mound of shhh....surely quality literature, although I doubt I have anything to say about it that hasn't already been said. "Historical controvery" aside- I mean, *whatever,* Gregory totally went to the Dan Brown place, and as someone who's interested in history, I don't entirely appreciate it, but I think we intelligent people all know that this is fiction, despite what Gregory seems to be saying in the "Author's Q & A" thingy at the back of my copy.This is the I will review this festering mound of shhh....surely quality literature, although I doubt I have anything to say about it that hasn't already been said. "Historical controvery" aside- I mean, *whatever,* Gregory totally went to the Dan Brown place, and as someone who's interested in history, I don't entirely appreciate it, but I think we intelligent people all know that this is fiction, despite what Gregory seems to be saying in the "Author's Q & A" thingy at the back of my copy.This is the story of Anne Boleyn's rise to power, her reign as Queen of England, and her eventual execution, told through the eyes of her sister and fellow courtier, Mary. As a young girl, Mary becomes the mistress of Henry VIII, has two children with him, and is eventually supplanted by Anne. And hoo boy, is this some fiction. I mean, it was kinda *fun.* It was light and frothy, and not really much of a substantial meal. Gregory gravitated towards one of the more sensational theories about Anne Boleyn and her whole deal, and she really, really ran with it. I felt that many of her narrative choices were made for shock value when she could have spent a little more time developing the characters and motivations of Mary and Anne. Come on, Anne Boleyn was at least an *interesting historical figure!* Here, she's reduced to a scheming witch or a shrieking harridan- pretty much at all times. And Gregory tries to browbeat us into thinking that Mary's making all of these "Empowered Woman!!" decisions, when, truth be told, she lies pretty flat on the page. Ms. Gregory, honestly, you threw in the gay thing, and the secret midnight birth of witchcraft babies thing, and the saying "whore" a lot thing, and on top of all of that "isn't it just so shocking!" cake batter, you give me the icing of... a milquetoast heroine. Huzzah.Hell, it's a light, quick read, despite its size, and I enjoyed on the "eh, sometimes I like to read trash" level, so I have to give it two stars, but I feel kinda dirty.
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  • Tilbatilba
    November 27, 2008
    Utter rubbish. It is poorly written, particularly the embarrassing dialogue e.g. "she was hot for the King".The author selects a particularly fascinating period of history, but those events just weren't interesting enough apparently, so she makes up various events purely for their titillation value.There is much better historical fiction out there.
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  • Ana T.
    December 9, 2007
    I bought this book a few months back but I was hesitant to pick it up. Anne Boleyn's story is one I researched a long time ago and I wasn't too sure I wanted to revisit it. However this month I decided to read it with A. and A. so we could all discuss it and now I'm glad that I did it.I wasn't sure I was enjoying it very much at first. Mary Boleyn seemed, at times too innocent and tongue-tied, and at other times an intelligent observer of human nature. I wasn't too convinced with her as a charac I bought this book a few months back but I was hesitant to pick it up. Anne Boleyn's story is one I researched a long time ago and I wasn't too sure I wanted to revisit it. However this month I decided to read it with A. and A. so we could all discuss it and now I'm glad that I did it.I wasn't sure I was enjoying it very much at first. Mary Boleyn seemed, at times too innocent and tongue-tied, and at other times an intelligent observer of human nature. I wasn't too convinced with her as a character! A king's mistress should be at the time an enviable position and she seems not to care for it which I found a bit unbelievable. Also Anne seemed too sophisticated for a girl of 16, not only she knows anything and everything about manipulating and seducing a man she is even knowledgeable enough to know her sister wont hold his interest for long and the real secret to do that. Even if she has learned a few tricks in the french court it seems a bit too much that in that time and age powerful nobles like her father and uncle would listen to a mere girl of 16. She seems a bit over the top in her ruthlessness and her knowledgeable attitudes. It's difficult to believe that Mary, being the king's mistress would so readily be ordered about by Anne, she would surely revel in the power she had. And being born is such a family of courtiers it's also difficult to believe she would be as innocent and without malice as she is portrayed here. She might be young but she was surely aware of what riches she could and should obtain. If nothing else from being brought up that way.I became much more engrossed in the action after Anne captures the kings attention, and seems much more aware of what's at stake, and Mary is allowed to spend more time in the country with the children. It's seems to me that both sisters are much more fleshed out after that and it became more interesting for me too.I think Gregory tried to paint them has having two opposing tempers and attitudes. To me she went a bit too far, that black and white approach is too unreal. The story is reported from Mary's point of view who is the narrator and is usurped and sometimes humiliated by Anne on her way to the throne. It would be too easy to say that one was the good and the other the bad but I feel that they basically did the same thing. Gregory chooses to portray Mary's affair as the family's ambition and Anne's fight for the throne as her personal ambition but can we really say that was what happened? And is that really relevant? The girl who had Henry's attention when he first thought of getting rid of Catherine would do all in her power to be his future queen. And if Anne was an intelligent and learned young woman who participated in the debates regarding the new religion to help her cause I think that that is more compliment to her than something to condemn. What she may not have realised was that, after getting rid of one queen it would be easier for Henry to get rid of another if she fell out of favour or didn't give him the desired son. He was a king of which it was safer to be mistress than wife.As Mary's story unfolds I became more and more interested in her. She did really marry a "nobody" and she had to go away because of it, it seems like a beautiful love story and I found myself eager for more details about her and William's courtship. Much more than about Henry and Anne's which is ruined a bit for me because of Gregory’s portrayal of Anne who must have been scheming and determined yes but also intriguing and more complex than she appeared here.Gregory does take several liberties with the story and I'm usually okay with that if there are no known facts or if there are several theories about it but I was really disappointed with what she decided to use to support Henry's accusations. Totally unnecessary I think, history is interesting enough in this case; no need to pass for truth something that is widely known today to be a lie... The case against Anne Boleyn was so badly done and the king's interest in getting rid of her was so open that even his contemporaries (and Anne's enemies) felt it unfair and without cause.So yes I think Gregory is a good storyteller if even I am sometimes jarred out of the story by things I recognise as not being true or because the characters react in ways that I find are too modern. I will read her again but I'm hoping she won’t pull much more stunts like that one or she will ruin the books for me.Grade: B
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  • Nichole (Dirrty H)
    January 8, 2008
    I finally finished this book! Just in time to go see the movie, which was nothing like it. And neither was much like actual history. But I suppose that's not very important, is it?This book is full of scandal and intrigue, sex and debauchery, scheming, betrayal, and maybe a little bit of love. Much like any good soap opera. This is a fairly entertaining read if you like such things. I had a hard time staying interested, and read several other books while I was trying to finish this one. I did li I finally finished this book! Just in time to go see the movie, which was nothing like it. And neither was much like actual history. But I suppose that's not very important, is it?This book is full of scandal and intrigue, sex and debauchery, scheming, betrayal, and maybe a little bit of love. Much like any good soap opera. This is a fairly entertaining read if you like such things. I had a hard time staying interested, and read several other books while I was trying to finish this one. I did like it, it just never quite grabbed me enough to make me "have to finish it!"Two complaints about this book. The first I've already mentioned; it's not very historically accurate. I didn't know much about Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn, so while I was reading this book I decided to do a little research. (Well, wikipedia... that counts, right?) While the major events and players are correct, the timeline and a lot of the more minor occurrences are all twisted or fabricated. Anne was not and is not remembered in history as being quite so conniving or evil. Mary was actually the older sister, her affair with the king had been over for quite some time before he took up with Anne, and she'd actually had an affair with the king of France first. And there is no evidence that their parents pushed either of them into the king's bed. I'll stop ranting, just keep in mind that most of what you read in this book isn't quite the way it really was.My second complaint was that it was way too long. Not that I have a problem with long books, if they can keep it fresh. But I felt like Philippa Gregory came into my house, took this book and beat me over the head with it. 200 pages in and I was saying "Okay! I get it!" This book could have easily been half as long and still gotten the same point across. It felt like she took the same scene and rewrote it over and over and over again.... Mary's parents and uncle want her to sleep with the king. Anne must produce a male heir. Mary wants to leave court and live in the country. I understood these points the first time you brought them up. Repeating them two or three times, fine. But five, six, twelve times... Enough already! I got a little frustrated with the redundancy of this novel.Overall this was a pretty good book and I would say if you're interested, read it. There is kind of a sweet love story hidden there, between Mary and one of her uncle's employees. But I did get frustrated with the redundancies and the historical inaccuracies, and occasionally the soap opera feel got to be a little too much. Read it knowing what you're getting into; and keep in mind it's nothing like the movie!
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  • Oriana
    November 22, 2007
    I normally don't write reviews, never did but somehow, I think I should start todo something to keep track of my readings. With the support of my two friends, Ana T. and Ana O., here's my first try... Beware, there’s some slight spoilers and a major one at the end.The Other Boleyn Girl was, in fact, a reread. This book was part of my Read Along Challenge with Ana T. and Ana O. and I'm glad we included it in our list.I still remembered getting really annoyed the first time with the historical lib I normally don't write reviews, never did but somehow, I think I should start todo something to keep track of my readings. With the support of my two friends, Ana T. and Ana O., here's my first try... Beware, there’s some slight spoilers and a major one at the end.The Other Boleyn Girl was, in fact, a reread. This book was part of my Read Along Challenge with Ana T. and Ana O. and I'm glad we included it in our list.I still remembered getting really annoyed the first time with the historical liberties taken by Philippa Gregory and this second round I just wanted to enjoy the story while keeping in my mind it is (very!) loosely based on real facts and it's far from being an accurate historical portrayal. Like Ana O. says in her review, this is better to be read as an historical fantasy. Couldn't agree more!I struggled during all the book to keep that thought, but sometimes it was useless. Many parts of this story was based in unproved theories and even Mary Boleyn's life is mostly a mystery. There's some tidbits here and there, but very little information, especially about her relationship with her sister or/and the King Henry VIII. It's rather obvious that the author has a huge sympathy for Mary Boleyn and even, sometimes, a bit of a condescending attitude towards the young, pretty and naive girl who fell helplessly in love for her king. Now, Anne is an entirely different thing, she's described as a true villain! An intelligent and ambitious young woman who did everything she could to attract Henry's attention and become a Queen. Two sisters. The fair and the dark one. The generous and the ruthless. This omnipresent dichotomy was kind of annoying and took some of the characters complexity and richness.Henry VIII gained here an image that I suppose he really never had. He might have been a charismatic king, even charming occasionally but never someone physically attractive or even sweet and gentle or an attentive husband. For some moments, I even had the feeling that everyone had their schemes and intrigues, except for him. He is clearly a victim, just like sweet Mary.What really bothered me in this story, was the sensationalized end. The incest with the brother, the accusations of witchcraft and treason. Gregory gives reason to the king for murdering his wife when nothing, absolutely nothing proves she was guilty of all those crimes. Even knowing the flaws, the historical mistakes and trying to keep this as a light reading, I just couldn't stomach this one without some frustration. Besides these aspects, I really must confess that Gregory's writing style make up for the other less pleasant parts. The 16th century settings are described vividly and the court life and intrigues really drags you easily into the story. She is a talented storyteller and this was a page turner. Grade: B+.
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  • James
    January 7, 2012
    This was one of the first books I read by Philippa Gregory -- and out of order. How could I do that to myself... but in the end, you can read them out of order assuming you know the entire list of monarchs in order. :) Informative book. If you're a history buff, it will line up well -- and give you some things to dispute!
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  • Crystal Starr Light
    May 13, 2012
    "You just keep on being sweetly stupid, Mary. You do it beautifully." Mary Boleyn is one of Queen Katherine's many ladies-in-waiting. But things change when she catches King Henry VIII's eye. Her family, led by Uncle Thomas Howard, quickly push her into becoming the King's mistress, but Anne, Mary's sister, is never satisfied. Set amidst the turmoil of King Henry's early rule, we follow Mary through her affair with the King, the strife between King Henry and Queen Katherine, and the marriage of "You just keep on being sweetly stupid, Mary. You do it beautifully." Mary Boleyn is one of Queen Katherine's many ladies-in-waiting. But things change when she catches King Henry VIII's eye. Her family, led by Uncle Thomas Howard, quickly push her into becoming the King's mistress, but Anne, Mary's sister, is never satisfied. Set amidst the turmoil of King Henry's early rule, we follow Mary through her affair with the King, the strife between King Henry and Queen Katherine, and the marriage of King Henry to Queen Anne.The best way I can describe this book is "guilty pleasure". There is so much to dislike about the book, and yet I was entertained for the entire part. Not to mention, this book made me research Tudor England and the whole drama with King Henry VIII and his many wives, and any book that makes me interested in looking up history or researching the backstory gets a bit of a boost in my book.First off, I am no historian, nor am I particularly well-versed in this era. Therefore, I am not going to get into much detail about whether or not this book is historically accurate. There are other reviews that go into FAR better detail about whether this is accurate to history; I will defer to them. But I do caution: if you are expecting 100% accuracy, I would encourage you to pass this book up. Just the itsy bitsy bit of research I have done doesn't seem to quite match up to what PG presents here.With that out of the way, let's get on to the good stuff!First off, I really didn't like our "protagonist", Mary Boleyn. In Gregory's story, Mary Boleyn, the sometimes "other Boleyn girl" (though the term was applied occasionally to Anne), is the younger sister of Anne (this is one of those areas where historians will tell you that most likely, Mary was the eldest--and in this book, I really felt that Mary acted more like the eldest than the youngest). She is married to William Carrey and quickly attracts the eye of the King. Her family then tells her to seduce him and bed him, which she does. But after the birth of her second child, Anne whisks the King's attention, and Mary is left in the background.I'll admit, I like it when characters aren't perfect, aren't the best or smartest in a field, aren't able to make the right decision each and every time, have actual flaws. But Mary really tries the patience. According to history, Mary was the beauty but not so bright (it was Anne who was the brains), but Mary in TOBG seems unable to put the simplest conclusions together.For instance, when William Stafford leaves to secure a farm for a "court lady" he's been interested in, Mary IMMEDIATELY assumes he has been seeing someone BESIDES her and snubs him. OF COURSE, we know that William, who knows Mary's desire to be a simple farmer's wife, was actually purchasing the farm for HER. (In Gregory's defense, this Misunderstanding did not last very long.)Another count against Mary is her passivity. I know women in this period do not have the freedoms that modern women do, but Mary was a complete doormat. She rarely even tried to defy her family. Most of her actions are either A) forced upon her or B) reactions to other people's actions. She doesn't initially WANT to seduce the King, but her family forces her. She balks at helping Anne, but her family tells her to. She wants to see her kids, but her family won't let her; therefore, she doesn't see her kids.What is almost worse is when Mary complains about how she can't do anything, how if she had her own free will, she wouldn't have done X. She could have put up a little more defense, tried a little harder, pushed a little more. Or she could have just been kicked out of her family. But personally, I like Queen Katherine's response to Mary's BS best:"If you had not been tempted, you would not have fallen. If it was not in your interest to betray me, then you would have been loyal. Go away, Lady Carrey. You are no better than your sister, who pursues her own ends like a weasel and never glances to one side or the other."And that leads to my other complaint. Mary likes to think she is way better than her sister, Anne...but most of what Anne does, Mary has done before. Or she gloats (and I mean GLOATS) about what she didn't do. Such as:+ When Anne was sent to Hever, Mary writes Anne every week and gushes about her pregnancy and how the King lurves her so much.+ Enjoying how Anne has to wait on her, then being p!ssy when the tables are turned.+ Being upset when Anne gets married to the King, but legitimizes her affair with the King (in fact, I never felt that Mary was at all guilty for sleeping with the married King or committing adultery against her own husband).+ Being upset when Anne is pregnant with the King's baby, but when she was pregnant, she rubbed her sister's nose in it.And then we have how she has an affair and can't BELIEVE how her husband William Carey is upset at her (uh, duh?) or her claim to be loyal to the Queen even though she is sleeping with the King. For the latter, she even names the child she bore through Henry after Queen Katherine! (How tacky!)But it seems that Mary is supposed to be the perfect, sweet sister. She is loyal to the Queen, even turning against her sister. At one point, Mary becomes a confidant of sorts to the Queen, and the two giggle about how awful Anne is--sure, that's believable! We also know Mary is "good" because she wants to abandon court life for country life after a mere 3 month stay at Hever! And then, when she becomes a farmer's wife, she ADORES making cheese and cooking and has NO PROBLEMS with all the work she suddenly has to do. And while Anne meets a terrible end, Mary gets a happily ever after--her children, a loving husband, a little farm, and all the things she ever wanted.Instead of being the perfect, sweet, innocent, beleaguered sister, Mary came across as a dense, two-faced, passive hypocrite, unable to do anything for herself, who somehow got everything she wanted but didn't deserve.But as much as I despised Mary, I adored Anne and Queen Katherine. Sure, Anne is personified as a bawdy devil, a woman desperate for power and the Queen's throne instead of an intelligent, highly religious woman who really did love the King, but I felt that a lot of what she did was understandable. She was smart and cunning; when her family didn't support her (and for a good portion of the book, it seemed they did EVERYTHING to make her life miserable), she made her own way using her own wits and skill. Mary needed guiding throughout her entire time of her affair; Anne was more than capable of handling herself. Her struggles to give birth to a son were heart-rending; her desperation understandable (not that I really believe she slept with her brother or was a witch). As for Queen Katherine, she was a respectable woman, a good wife. I felt bad for how King Henry put her away in favor of Anne.As for the rest of the characters, they are pretty one-dimensional. King Henry is ALMOST ALWAYS called a "boy" by Mary, which was irritating and disturbing. King Henry, I always got the impression, was a pretty strong, charismatic guy. I'm sure he had some childlike aspects, but I felt nearly every other time Mary saw him, she was comparing him to a child. If Mary found him so childlike, how could she have a years-long affair? Ew! Jane Parker is so snoopy and awful; Jane Seymour is so virtuous and sickeningly pure; Uncle Thomas was pure evil; George honestly felt campy gay (I'm surprised more people didn't find out about his orientation); William Stafford is so "wonderful" and "manly", I wanted to be sick. None of them really stood out; none of them felt like people whom I could interact with and meet on a daily basis.A key component of this story, the whole reason I believe it was written, was to show the competition between the two sisters, to compare and contrast. But while The Cranes Dance did an EXCELLENT job of showing two sisters who love each other but feel threatened by each other as well, this book flopped. I felt like both girls hated each other viscerally, until one of them would do something unexpectedly nice to the other or say how fond they were of their sister (and mean it).Another thing that I felt really hurt the story was one key historical component. I know I said I wouldn't nitpick history, but I felt this component REALLY affected the story. There is NO WAY Mary's son would have ever been considered an heir apparent to the King, even if he were to marry her after the fact. The King already had an illegitimate son through Bessie Blount; he would have been the first in line if illegitimate children were in line for the throne. So all of the family's crazy talk and effort to get Mary married to King Henry and how their illegitimate son would be heir is silly and ultimately pointless. Sure, if the King married Mary, she MIGHT have another son, but that is the only way for an heir to come.After Mary's affair with the King, the story really stops being about her and is instead about Anne. I guess it makes sense, but when the story tries to return to being about Mary, it is boring and so drowned in sugary, sweet sappiness, I thought I was going to go into a coma. Mary and William are a boring couple. They meet, they fall in love, life goes perfectly for them (with a few mild speedbumps that are IN NO WAY Mary's fault). William is not at all frustrated with Mary for being unable to do simple household tasks; Mary loves being a housewife and getting her hands rough and dirty. William is A-OK with Mary's earlier affair; Mary has no problem giving up court life to live in the country. Oh, and they have AMAZING MIND-BLOWING SEX. The relationship COULD have been interesting; these two characters come from wildly different worlds. But because Mary has to have everything turn out perfect for her, there was no drama.I must commend PG (or her editors, future books will tell which of those is true) on the brisk pace. Very rarely does the book just sit around and do nothing; for the most part, the story moves and is pretty engaging. I might not have liked some of the characters, but I WAS interested in seeing how they would turn out. And I listened to this book to the very end with little regret for the time I put into it (and I've regretted many a book I've sat listening to through to the end).One more thing: Susan Lyons, you are an amazing narrator! Pat yourself on the back!I do not recommend this book for history buffs or hard-core Tudor enthusiasts, but for those that don't mind some mindless, deliciously catty entertainment, this is a decent read. At the very least, it will make you head to the library or the ebook store or to Wiki to do some research of the time; at the best, you will have spent a few hours (depending on whether you are reading or listening, of course) immersed in a time left behind long ago. I certainly don't regret the time I spent listening to it or the new knowledge I have of the Tudors.
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  • Leslie
    May 13, 2011
    4.5 Stars!This was my first Philippa Gregory read and even though this book is classified as "fiction", Gregory included several historical facts and wrote an enchanting and lovely story about the life of Mary Boleyn. I found this book hauntingly written with the many facts I do know about King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne. The minute Mary Boleyn arrives at court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. She is quite frankly dazzled by him and quickly falls in l 4.5 Stars!This was my first Philippa Gregory read and even though this book is classified as "fiction", Gregory included several historical facts and wrote an enchanting and lovely story about the life of Mary Boleyn. I found this book hauntingly written with the many facts I do know about King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne. The minute Mary Boleyn arrives at court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. She is quite frankly dazzled by him and quickly falls in love with both her beloved King and her growing role as "unofficial queen." However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots and unfortunately for Mary, the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her sister and best friend, Anne. As devastated as Mary must have been, her decision to ultimately leave court was the best possible scenario that could have happened to her. If you know anything about King Henry VIII, you know that Mary's sister, Anne, was beheaded for basically not giving Henry a son or, "heir" to his throne. It certainly didn't help that Anne had also persuaded the King to break his relations with the Catholic church; so he could form the Church of England in order to grant himself a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry her. Hense, making relations with Spain, a mostly Catholic country, and the beloved Roman Catholic Pope, extremely tense.This was a rich and intriguing story of love, sex, ambition, and unforgiveable betrayal. Mary possesses extraordinary determination to survive and owns the true knowledge of the most horrific accusations; finding herself in a position of ultimate favor - with no one to save but herself...
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  • Selene
    June 28, 2016
    I read this and didn't know it was part of a series... Whoops!
  • graveyardgremlin (formerly faeriemyst)
    May 14, 2011
    Going into The Other Boleyn Girl I already knew that the historical details weren't very factual, but I had this laying around and needed something both light and set in the past, so I figured this would do nicely. The writing itself is perfectly fine, and mostly, I did enjoy the book. Although, for the first half, it seemed as if everyone only wore red and by the end I got so sick of hearing about Anne's "B" for Boleyn necklace I could scream.Mary Boleyn, the narrator, is a strange character: s Going into The Other Boleyn Girl I already knew that the historical details weren't very factual, but I had this laying around and needed something both light and set in the past, so I figured this would do nicely. The writing itself is perfectly fine, and mostly, I did enjoy the book. Although, for the first half, it seemed as if everyone only wore red and by the end I got so sick of hearing about Anne's "B" for Boleyn necklace I could scream.Mary Boleyn, the narrator, is a strange character: sympathetic and of reasonable intelligence one minute, a moronic irritant the next. Personality-wise she went up and down and back and forth. First she was fine not being the King's favorite anymore and seeming to want to leave the court life for the country to be with her children, then she was jealous of a title Anne received, years after the affair between Mary and Henry was over. Possibly this was put in as part of the rivalry between the sisters, but it didn't contextually fit. Her development could have used more work and she didn't mature or change much throughout the whole book, especially between the years 1522 to 1533. I seriously got tired of everybody's patronizing and calling her a fool all the time. They should have just named the book, The Foolish Boleyn Girl. I find it hard to believe Mary was so ignorant the king would have continued to have her as mistress for four years, give or take. She had to offer something other than good looks and being great in the bedroom. Anne herself sure was a piece of work, and even though she was pretty much evil throughout the book, I did still feel sorry for her at the end. Jane Parker was a one-dimensional malicious harpy who wasn't given a reason why she was that way; she was just the resident baddy to the Boleyns. To me, it felt like defamation of character.Politics and the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church were merely mentioned in passing as court life and its primary players took center stage. The whole incest plot, I could have done without. Now if it were the absolute truth then it'd be okay, but since it's highly debatable and based on hearsay, I found it unnecessary and gratuitous. Around the two-thirds mark, the pace let up and it became more sluggish and boring, and it wasn't until the last sixty pages that it recaptured my attention again.As long as readers know going into this book that the history has been twisted around and invented for pure sensation, then it's fine as a fictional read, but take any "facts" with a grain of salt. While it was an okay read, I didn't love it, but it managed to divert my attention for a few days.One last note dealing with the fourth question in the Q&A with Philippa Gregory in the back of the book:How about Mary and Anne's brother, George? Did he really sleep with his sister so that she could give Henry a son?Nobody can know the answer to this one. Anne was accused of adultery with George at their trials and his wife gave evidence against them both. Most people think the trial was a show trial, but it is an interesting accusation. Anne had three miscarriages by the time of her trial, and she was not a woman to let something like sin or crime stand in her way--she was clearly guilty of one murder. I think if she had thought that Henry could not bear a son she was quite capable of finding someone to father a child on her. If she thought that, then George would have been the obvious choice.Obvious? How in the world is that obvious? You cannot be serious, Ms. Gregory. Now I'm far from an expert in Tudor England, but I cannot imagine that being a common practice. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about this time could tell me if that ever happened, because it just boggles my mind that George would be the "obvious choice." Not to mention, who the hell did Anne supposedly kill? I hadn't heard that anywhere. Even my searches are coming up blank.
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  • ~Bellegirl91~
    May 25, 2011
    I LOVED this book sooooo much and was my first Philippa Gregory book and movie I saw. I have this weird fascination with the Tudor era ESPECIALLY anything to do with King Henry VIII and his court. So I remember watching this movie first having high hopes for it and came out disappointed when it was more focused on Mary Boleyn and some other stuff that didn't happen so I vowed that I would never watch it again. well, I read the book and saw WHY it was Mary's POV and ended up wanting to watch the I LOVED this book sooooo much and was my first Philippa Gregory book and movie I saw. I have this weird fascination with the Tudor era ESPECIALLY anything to do with King Henry VIII and his court. So I remember watching this movie first having high hopes for it and came out disappointed when it was more focused on Mary Boleyn and some other stuff that didn't happen so I vowed that I would never watch it again. well, I read the book and saw WHY it was Mary's POV and ended up wanting to watch the movie again and did and LOVED it after buying it without watching it again haha. My only beef was Eric Bana as Henry. I'm sorry but being ALMOST done with The Tudors on netflix and seeing Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who I've always liked) play Henry VIII.....wow! he makes Bana LOOK BAD I'm sorry but not sorry to say. I seriously LOVE the Tudors and the show was fantastically done and I look back on this book and makes me love it even more. Gregory KNOWS how to make you feel part of the Tudor court and write a story! she is the queen of this era I can tell you that! so if you want a good read/book on this story, read this one especially Mary Boleyn's POV and what she probably went through. the research put wtih a fictional story was amazing, beautiful and you truly felt for Mary and yes later Anne but mainly Mary.
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  • Laura
    September 4, 2012
    This book is repulsive.I'm fine with historical re-interpretations. I'm fine with playing fast and loose with the facts for the sake of a good story. I love the idea of rescuing the forgotten ladies of history. What I am very much NOT fine with is slut-shaming and demonizing women for the sake of making their "competitors" look good by comparison. Gregory sets up a dichotomy by which Mary- our protagonist, a convenient historical blank slate on whom Gregory can project whatever she wants- become This book is repulsive.I'm fine with historical re-interpretations. I'm fine with playing fast and loose with the facts for the sake of a good story. I love the idea of rescuing the forgotten ladies of history. What I am very much NOT fine with is slut-shaming and demonizing women for the sake of making their "competitors" look good by comparison. Gregory sets up a dichotomy by which Mary- our protagonist, a convenient historical blank slate on whom Gregory can project whatever she wants- becomes the sweet, virginal victim of her family's machinations who just wants to have babies like a good woman is set in contrast to Anne, who is a scheming, vindictive, alcoholic, incestuous [insert sexist slur here] because she has the absolute AUDACITY to want a prominent position for herself. This wouldn't even be so bad if Gregory hadn't repeatedly insisted in interviews that her version of the story is the TRUE version, that everything put down in this pulpy piece of crap is 100% accurate, and Anne Boleyn was a schemey McSlutslut. Screw this book, screw this franchise, and screw this bullshit sexist revisionism. If I could give it zero stars, I would.
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  • Rebecca
    November 3, 2007
    For the first half of the book, I was very intrigued. I thought the story to be fascinating. However, the book is too long (about 650 pages). I suppose it must be in order to cover the majority of Mary Boleyn's lifetime. Yet, I was finding myself fatigued by the end. Most of us know at least part of what happened to Mary's sister, Queen Anne, and so I knew already how the book would end. Also, I have never read a true, authentic "romance" novel. I don't know how explicit the romance novels out t For the first half of the book, I was very intrigued. I thought the story to be fascinating. However, the book is too long (about 650 pages). I suppose it must be in order to cover the majority of Mary Boleyn's lifetime. Yet, I was finding myself fatigued by the end. Most of us know at least part of what happened to Mary's sister, Queen Anne, and so I knew already how the book would end. Also, I have never read a true, authentic "romance" novel. I don't know how explicit the romance novels out there actually are, but I do know that this book is BLUNT. There are definitely parts of the book where I was uncomfortable and squeamish! I would prefer a more tactful way to describe relations between the king and his mistresses. I know this is a book where a king and his mistresses are center stage. I am sure there is sufficient historical truths to the philanderings of King Henry VIII, but I don't need to read every detail. I would prefer not to read about "whore tricks." If you read this book, you will read the word "whore" a lot! Read this book at your own risk. It skates the line between a risque, interesting twist on history and being just another tacky romance novel. Don't even get me started about the questionable life of Mary's brother, George. The book left me with a desire to read more about the Boleyn family as they really were. I would like to read other theories as to what George and Mary's crimes were, which may not be as sensational.
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  • Beth F.
    July 31, 2008
    When I started this book I could hardly put it down. It was easy to read. It was fast. And Philippa Gregory is a wonderful story-teller. But by the middle of the book, I started to lose my momentum because the repetition began to wear on me and I realized that any sort of real character development was decidedly lacking. It gave me flashbacks to reading Twilight. That being said, I have given the book an extra star because the story was quite enjoyable, and even though I struggled to recognize t When I started this book I could hardly put it down. It was easy to read. It was fast. And Philippa Gregory is a wonderful story-teller. But by the middle of the book, I started to lose my momentum because the repetition began to wear on me and I realized that any sort of real character development was decidedly lacking. It gave me flashbacks to reading Twilight. That being said, I have given the book an extra star because the story was quite enjoyable, and even though I struggled to recognize that there was any real humanity driving the characters, reading this book never felt like a chore and the time I dedicated to reading it always went fast. The story is told as a first-person narrative from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, infamous Anne’s younger sister. Anne and Mary are each other’s best friends and worst enemies and are in constant competition. This is primarily fueled by Anne, who feels the constant need to one-up Mary. So when Mary catches the eye of King Henry and becomes his mistress, Anne is forced to shelve her own desires and cater to the needs of Mary. However, this does not last and the tables are turned dramatically when Mary falls out of the king’s favor and Anne steps in. Most of us know how the story ends because Anne Boleyn was the most legendary of Henry Tudor’s six wives. But beyond the ending of their marriage, the rest may or may not be up to speculation. Gregory took some liberties with the facts of history, which may annoy some who prefer stories that remain true to history, but I didn’t have a problem with that. I think it’s interesting to pose a “what if” question to some of history’s most notorious characters and see where it goes. Overall, I wasn’t crazy about Gregory’s character development but I’m still curious to try another of her novels because it was engaging brain candy. But probably won’t rush out to get it.
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