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The Other Boleyn Girl Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Boleyn
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed edition (June 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743227441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743227445
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Before Henry VIII ever considered making Anne Boleyn his wife, her older sister, Mary, was his mistress. Historical novelist Gregory (Virgin Earth) uses the perspective of this "other Boleyn girl" to reveal the rivalries and intrigues swirling through England. The sisters and their brother George were raised with one goal: to advance the Howard family's interests, especially against the Seymours. So when Mary catches the king's fancy, her family orders her to abandon the husband they had chosen. She bears Henry two children, including a son, but Anne's desire to be queen drives her with ruthless intensity, alienating family and foes. As Henry grows more desperate for a legitimate son and Anne strives to replace Catherine as queen, the social fabric weakens. Mary abandons court life to live with a new husband and her children in the countryside, but love and duty bring her back to Anne time and again. We share Mary's helplessness as Anne loses favor, and everyone abandons her amid accusations of adultery, incest, and witchcraft. Even the Boleyn parents won't intervene for their children. Gregory captures not only the dalliances of court but the panorama of political and religious clashes throughout Europe. She controls a complicated narrative and dozens of characters without faltering, in a novel sure to please public library fans of historical fiction. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Born in Kenya in 1954, Philippa Gregory moved to England with her family and was educated in Bristol and at the National Council for the Training of Journalists course in Cardiff. She worked as a senior reporter on the Portsmouth News, and as a journalist and producer for BBC radio.

Philippa obtained a BA degree in history at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature. Her first novel, Wideacre, was written as she completed her PhD and became an instant world wide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer, and now lives with her family on a small farm in the North of England.

Her knowledge of gothic 18th century novels led to Philippa writing Wideacre, which was followed by a haunting sequel, The Favoured Child, and the delightful happy ending of the trilogy: Meridon. This novel was listed in Feminist Book Fortnight and for the Romantic Novel of the Year at the same time - one of the many instances of Philippa's work appealing to very different readers.

The trilogy was followed by The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation, and by Fallen Skies, an evocative realistic story set after the First World War. Her novel A Respectable Trade took her back to the 18th century where her knowledge of the slave trade and her home town of Bristol produced a haunting novel of slave trading and its terrible human cost. This is the only modern novel to explore the tragedies of slavery in England itself, and features a group of kidnapped African people trying to find their freedom in the elegant houses of 18th century Clifton. Gregory adapted her book for a highly acclaimed BBC television production which won the prize for drama from the Commission for Racial Equality and was shortlisted for a BAFTA for the screenplay.

Next came two of Gregory's best-loved novels, Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son John Tradescant working in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In these works Gregory pioneered the genre which has become her own: fictional biography, the true story of a real person brought to life with painstaking research and passionate verve.

The flowering of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway best-seller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published in 26 countries with more than a million copies in print in the US alone, this is becoming a classic historical novel, winning the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award 2002, and the Romantic Times fictional biography award. The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for the BBC as a single television drama and a film is now in production starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster and a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team.

She lives in the North of England with her husband and two children and in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening (an interest born from research into the Tradescant family for her novel, Virgin Earth), she also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia. Fifty-six wells have been built by UK donors to date.

Customer Reviews

It was a really good book and made me want more.
J. Stacey
Philippa Gregory blends historical fact and fiction so well; she truly makes Mary, an obscure character in English history, come alive.
danielle
If you enjoy historical fiction and are interested in Tudor England, I would highly recommend reading this book.
Sarah Mulchand

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

509 of 553 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on May 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
I had more or less given up reading historical novels when I ran out of books by Jean Plaidy to read. For me, she was one of the truly rare authours (saving Sharon Kay Penman of course) who got the feel, tone and character of her subject matter right. So that I had more or less stopped looking out for new books in this genre to read. And then I saw "The Other Boleyn Girl" at my local bookstore, and after sampling the first chapter, I realized that I had to buy this book. And I'm awfully glad that I did. What a simply wonderful read!! Phillipa Gregory did a really splendid job of evoking the splendor and turbulence of Henry VIII's court. I also thought that her choice of narrator, Mary Boleyn (the elder of the Boleyn sisters) was an inspired as well. Most historians (and perhaps I've only read the those that espoused this majority view) tend to dismiss Mary as an empty headed good time girl because she was used and cast aside with very little ceremony; and because she never rose as high as her sister, Anne. But you have to wonder: Mary was also the only Boleyn sibling to survive the vicissitudes of Henry VIII's reign, and the fall of the Howard-Boleyn fortunes; she also managed to marry for love (and a happy and lasting marriage it proved to be too) the second time around. So perhaps there was a lot more to the 'other Boleyn girl' than everyone credits?
Gregory's novel opens and closes with two executions -- it begins with the execution of the Duke of Buckingham in 1521, and ends with the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536. With this rather grim events framing her book, the novel proper starts in 1522, with Anne arrival at the Tudor court, where her elder sister, Mary, is already lady-in-waiting to Henry's wife, Queen Katherine.
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184 of 213 people found the following review helpful By beachrunnerjkn@netscape.net on January 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Other Boleyn Girl, is hands down the best piece of historical fiction I have ever read. Upon reading it, I have been searching for other books of its genre and subject matter to delve into.
Gregory made these characters come alive for me, and made me understand how difficult it was to live as a woman in the early 1500s. Mary was especially well crafted. At 13 years old she went from her forced marriage to being thrown into the King's arms as his mistress. The inner struggles she fought between being true to herself and her heart, or true to her family were especially poignant.
Anne Boleyn, the most famous and tragically terminated sister, is portrayed in such a venomous way. She would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, and to rise in power and prestige. In the end it killed her. But her character, as portrayed by Ms. Gregory, was compelling and convincingly ugly, despite her beauty.
King Henry VIII also jumped off the pages. He came off as a spoiled brat, even as he grew older, who always got what he wanted. He and Anne were well matched for each other as no level of deceipt was too high.
Ms. Gregory was brilliant in choosing Mary as the narrator of this book. In doing so, the manipulative and scheming nature of Anne was able to come alive, as was the unorthodox lifestyle chosen by George Boleyn, the brother. The relationship amongst the Boleyn siblings, in and of itself, could fill a novel. The complexities of a family struggling to maintain individual identities, while working to bring the family up to the highest level of stature is intense.
This book is a page turner; it is incredibly compelling, deep and fascinating. I learned a great deal about the monarchy of Henry VII as well as life in the court during that time period. At the same time, I found myself incredibly entertained and saddened when I reached the last page. I cannot wait for more from Ms. Gregory.
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79 of 92 people found the following review helpful By ds on April 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
The author lost my interest right off the bat when she proclaimed Mary to be the younger Boleyn girl. All historical sources agree that she was the elder daughter. That doesn't really matter to the story, so why not get it right? I was also annoyed by the portrayal of Mary as an innocent young girl when she first met Henry VIII...in fact, she had previously been the mistress of Francois I of France and had been kicked out of the French court for prostitution, which is why she returned to England while Anne remained in France. When Mary arrived at the English Court, an innocent she was NOT. I found the author's portraits of all 3 Boleyn children to be biased in the direction she wanted them to go, as opposed to being realistic based on the historical data available. The author was prone to conveniently leaving out facts that were relevant to the story but did not support her simplistic view of each character. Anyone who has read historical accounts of these characters and times will be severely disappointed in this book. I only hope that the general public does not mistake this book for history.
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104 of 125 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan of Tudor England. I am also a fan of reading, particularly historical fiction. My favorite subject would be, of course, Anne Boleyn, the Boleyn family, and her friends. I heard that The Other Boleyn Girl was chronicling Mary Boleyn, the relatively unknown sister of Anne, and I was undoubtedly excited. I've always thought of Mary as the less succesful sister, the foolish one, who enjoyed the bodily pleasures and failed in her ambitions(there being overwhelming evidence to support this), as opposed to the witty, intelligent, wordly and ambitious Anne who was spirtually adept and not neccisarily a physical being. I, of course have read books where Anne was not all of these and still enjoyed them so don't think my intense admiration for Anne is coloring my review.

Let me start off with the basics; Characterization. Gregory apparently skipped this class-or at least was asleep for the majority of it. All of her characters are two-deminsional-at best. Let's start with the protagonist-Mary. For no reason whatsoever Mary has grown up superior to her family...despite the fact that she had no outside influence to change this. She never mentions a mentor who taught her her values and moral superiority,she is not particularly religious,she merely is better-something that goes intensly against human nature. Mary's intentions are soley good all the time, she just wants to be with her beautiful children and escape her evil family. I suppose her good nature was supposed to leave me on pins and needles just hoping she gets that beautiful happily ever after-in fact, it had the exact opposite effect.
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