Sunday, March 2, 2008

Julie's Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

Summary: Sisterly rivalry is the basis of this fresh, wonderfully vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn. Anne, her sister Mary and their brother George are all brought to the king's court at a young age, as players in their uncle's plans to advance the family's fortunes. Mary, the sweet, blond sister, wins King Henry VIII's favor when she is barely 14 and already married to one of his courtiers. Their affair lasts several years, and she gives Henry a daughter and a son. But her dark, clever, scheming sister, Anne, insinuates herself into Henry's graces, styling herself as his adviser and confidant. Soon she displaces Mary as his lover and begins her machinations to rid him of his wife, Katherine of Aragon. This is only the beginning of the intrigue that Gregory so handily chronicles, capturing beautifully the mingled hate and nearly incestuous love Anne, Mary and George ("kin and enemies all at once") feel for each other and the toll their family's ambition takes on them. Mary, the story's narrator, is the most sympathetic of the siblings, but even she is twisted by the demands of power and status; charming George, an able plotter, finally brings disaster on his own head by falling in love with a male courtier. Anne, most tormented of all, is ruthless in her drive to become queen, and then to give Henry a male heir. Rather than settling for a picturesque rendering of court life, Gregory conveys its claustrophobic, all-consuming nature with consummate skill. In the end, Anne's famous, tragic end is offset by Mary's happier fate, but the self-defeating folly of the quest for power lingers longest in the reader's mind.'s Weekly

Review: I know I'm a little obsessed with a book, movie or tv show when I dream about it every night and well in this case it was the wonderful, beautiful and enchanting The Other Boleyn Girl. I had put this book off for so long not sure if it was going to live up to the hype, but boy did it ever. I can't remember the last time that I read a 600+ page book and savored every single word the author wrote. This is the first time I've read Philippa Gregory and I can tell you it won't be the last.

I knew a little bit about this period in history but not a lot. Obviously I knew the major players, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn but that was about my extent of knowledge. I found the fact that the story is written with historical facts and figures but then fictional from the point of emotion and behind the scenes riveting. I knew how the story ended, with Anne being beheaded but how she got there was truly fascinating. Even more intriguing was her sister Mary and her rise from being a pawn to being her own woman. The Other Boleyn Girl is told from Mary's point of view and offers a fresh look at history but doesn't attempt to re-write it. I liked the supporting characters that surrounded Queen Anne's court and figured out early on that George wasn't into women and perhaps was a little too close to his sister Anne for their own good. Henry VIII is an interesting character and pretty much a power hungry jerk but there were many sides to him also.

This is yet another book that I'm sorry I put off reading for so long. It was truly a remarkable work of Historical Fiction and one that I will glad push onto anyone who hasn't read it. So if you were like me and have it on your bookshelf to read, pick it up and start it, I can guarantee you'll be enthralled immediately.

Now, I just need to decide if I want to see the movie. So if any of you ventured out this weekend and saw it and read the book, let me know your thoughts. I have limited time to get out and see a movie so I want to know if this book to movie adaptation is worth it. If not, I'll go and see Juno.

Final Take: 5/5


Jenn March 2, 2008 at 3:15 PM  

Wow! Gotta put this on my "To Read" list

Julie P. March 2, 2008 at 3:38 PM  

I loved it too! Now you need to read THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE.

Julie March 2, 2008 at 4:07 PM  

My aunt said that compared to her other work The Boleyn Inheritance was the weakest of her books. I'm sure I will end up reading it. The next one I read though will be The Constant Princess because I'm intrigued by Queen Katherine.

Jenn - Do you want me to send it to you?

Anonymous ,  March 2, 2008 at 6:26 PM  

This book was one of my favorite reads last year - I too was amazed that it never had a slow part in the whole book. My book club is going to see it in two weeks, although I think it's getting mixed reviews.

Unknown March 2, 2008 at 7:33 PM  

This was a great book. The first Phillipa Gregory book I read, as well. Since reading it I have also read all her other books relating to this time and subject. The Constant Princess was exceptionally interesting and very good.

tinylittlelibrarian March 3, 2008 at 3:52 PM  

This was a big, big fave of mine last year, too. I devoured it! :) Can't wait to see the movie.

Jenn March 6, 2008 at 9:29 AM  

My husband (the historian) says it's not terrbly accurate historiclly, but I'd hae to have him read it to give me the complete run down... still, it doesn't mean it isn't a great work of historical fiction!!!

Julie March 6, 2008 at 9:32 AM  

^I guess that's why it's fiction and not non-fiction. :P Tell him he just needs to enjoy the fact that it's somewhat accurate. Plus I think we're old enough to know the difference. LOL

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