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The Other Boleyn Girl Paperback – June 4, 2002
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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.
Top customer reviews
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SO!! This one is one that had me by my heart strings… I was pulled in so many different directions! I even sat and contemplated how to do a review because there was just so much in this.
Firstly, the only negative that I have. This is quite a long book. For someone that has learned a great deal about The Tudors some of the passages seemed a bit tedious. For someone new to the story and to their grand way of life however, I think every word is probably needed! For me though, it was just a tad on the long side.
Now to the positives! First, Philippa Gregory’s writing. Once again she dazzles with words in a way that few other authors can do. She has brought this court life alive and I can easily see and feel what she is talking about.
I also really enjoyed that this wasn’t about all of the Tudors but mainly about Mary. As the narrator of the story we only know what Mary knows and what she feels. This leaves a lot open for interpretation when it comes to Anne and the rest of her family but we know exactly how Mary feels and I just loved that.
I was surprised at just how conniving Anne really was. I mean at every point in her life she is working to better herself and her family but it was herself first and foremost. She is greedy and dishonest and it really showed. But still I feel for her even as I judge her. She went to high and could not see what she was doing to herself before it was way too late.
In short: I think Philippa Gregory yet again wrote a masterpiece filled with charms and poison. It’s a fabulous yet such a sad read.
Now? Ummm, no thank you. Anytime that you have to throw herbs and plants and herbs on the floor to keep fleas and body odor down, brush your hair nightly with a lice comb and no one brushes their teeth? I'll stick to the books.
And The Other Boleyn Girl is a masterfully written piece of fiction! Once again Phillipa Gregory brings to life the story of a young girl, used by her family to achieve their greatest desires without any thought of her or what she wants or what's happening to her.
When they believe she's no longer effective in furthering their rise they turn to her more ambitious sister and after that no one's safe. Anne Boleyn, through the king, tears their entire belief system to shreds, and when she is finally at the top, standing on the mangled remains of her country, family and her life, only then is she happy...Well almost. Find out just how crazy she becomes & how far she will to try to hold onto her reign as queen and the fates of her and those who were most loyal to her.
Maybe one of the Boleyn girls will survive a life forced upon her by her scheming, power-hungry relatives. Even though they taught her & honestly believe that as a girl she's no better than their most lowly serpent. Can Mary Boleyn break away from their influence and survive?
I'm not sure if the author was willing to neglect this fact like what she did so frequently while writing this book but the science of genetics didn't exist in Tudor England. We know this things now after years and years of research but people back then [weren't] aware of the X & Y chromosomes. So for Anne Boleyn to commit incest with her brother George [because he can give her a *male* heir to the throne] is not only improbable but highly inaccurate.
Unfortunately, the plot doesn't help us as [readers] sympathize or empathize with Mary Boleyn [Who is portrayed as the sweet/naive/innocent girl that falls into the claws of her overly ambitious family] which is something Miss.Gregory very clearly wants us to do. Historical inaccuracies aside there isn't much likable about Mary's Characterization in this novel she is represented as a sweet/innocent child of 13 [I know it was common for women to marry early back then] but yet she already commits adultery with the King and avoids her husband in the process but it's O.K because her family forced her into this. She betrays her Queen Katherine of Argon by stealing the letters she sends to her Spanish relations for her family to use it in their spawn but yet again that's perfectly suitable because she loves Katherine. Her Husband eventually dies and Mary gets over his death in lighting speed [which is perfectly fine but doesn't render any affection towards the character] then she falls in love with another man, marries him and leaves her maddening sister to her own devices which would render her downfall. A sister that she doesn't even care about and hates.
The Plot yet again doesn't make sense. If we were to believe that the Boleyns really pushed their daughters into the arms of King Henry VIII and eventually into his bed [Yet again another inaccurate assumption/doubtful] and that both Mary's children were Henry's [yet again another improbability] then one keeps wondering why would the Boleyns replace the Younger [more] fertile sister with the Older and shrewish sister ?
Anne Boleyn wasn't a Power maniac who seduced the King ruthlessly and tricked him into marrying her. Thus ruining her family's good graces and digging her own grave. It is was [death] to disobey the King. If Henry VIII wanted Anne in his bed it would've been really foolish for her to tell him [NO] or to run away. She knew the destiny of her sister Mary and how she was no more than a mistress, she probably didn't want to repeat that fate and did what she could with what she had. Got the best out of the situation. Whatever Anne was it is clear enough that Henry wanted her badly to not only leave his Queen of so many years for a woman of no noble blood but to break with the Church of Rome in a time were the protestant faith was looked upon as heresy.
If Anne was [What] this novel claims then it's a wonder she didn't have her head cut off the first five minutes she entered the court. I'm Not a fan of Anne Boleyn having more interest in her daughter Elizabeth but she was more than just sex and lies. I know it's Historical [Fiction] and the authors take some liberties but show the woman was some slack. And the reformation ? Show us that this is what had caused England years and years of Religious turmoil.
Can this Novel be enjoyable ? Yes, but only if one treated it as the way it should be a [fictional] account plucked out of the author's imagination Not as what Miss.Gregory want us to treat as which is Historical facts or High Probabilities.
PS, It is mentioned somewhere in the novel that Anne & Mary's mother has also been rumored to sleep with the King. In this light the author portrays the Boleyns as nothing short of concubine providers for the King's amusement which is ridicules and unnecessary. Plus, almost disturbing to think that Henry was possibly but improbably a father to either Mary or Anne ! [Disgusting]
PSS, The author claims to be a feminism writer and wants to show that in her novels. I think derogatory is the more accurate term. Portraying women who are sex slaves as angels while ambitious once as evil to society.
Most recent customer reviews
ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book and would love to know where I can find more like it.