October 09, 2011

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I guess I should first put out a disclaimer that I know barely anything about English history. Therefore I don't look at this book from a historical perspective, but rather just read it as I would any fiction book. Out of all the ones I've read from Gregory, I do have to say that this is probably my favorite.

Mary Boleyn is the younger daughter of a great house. Already married, that doesn't stop her when her family decides to use her to seduce King Henry VIII as he has shown interest in her. She bears him two children and while she is doing so, her older sister Anne then catches his attention. Anne has bigger plans though, plans that include the crown if she can manage to convince Henry to quietly remove the current Queen who has produced no heir for him. Mary has to help her sister despite being heartbroken herself, and the game becomes dangerous with intrigue as each step must be played right or they will face the hangman.

I liked Mary as a character. She may have been too sweet and good at times, but as the narrator there is a certain charm about her. She just seems down to earth when compared with the rest of the characters and she wants the same things I do from my life. Anne was a snippy thing and I think Gregory made it hard for any reader to like her as she was full of ambition without a care for hurting anyone. King Henry was as selfish a King as he was in Gregory's other book, The Constant Princess. He is also another hard to like figure in history. Mary and Anne's brother George was an interesting character. He had a bright personality despite all his troubles in the court.

Since this is based on history I thought that it flowed pretty well. There was enough of a draw that I had to keep reading and didn't want to put it down. It did move slowly in some parts but luckily that never lasted to long. I would have much preferred to hear more about Mary's life but she is slowly taken over by Anne in the book, even though she is the narrator. For those faint of heart there are some somewhat graphic scenes about childbirth, miscarriages, and sex in this book. They aren't horrendous descriptions but still enough that if you picture it in your head you might be queasy.

An interesting tale. I found it engaging and will definitely read more by Gregory.

The Other Boleyn Girl
Copyright 2001
661 pages

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