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The Other Boleyn Girl Hardcover – November 2, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,558 customer reviews
Book 2 of 6 in the Tudors Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 2, 2004)
  • ASIN: B001E43PY4
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,558 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,077,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I am in my final year of graduate school, about to receive my Master's in History. I bought "TOBG" in an airport in Minnesota, en route to California, hoping for a good vacation book. And sadly, that's all it is. If you're looking for anything serious about the Tudor Era, this is NOT IT. I read this book like one would read the National Enquirer -- scandalized and titillated, intrigued and entertained -- but NOT historically fulfilled. This book is seriously a little bit of minor research into the lives of the Boleyns and the Tudors, and then a huge slog of rumors about Anne Boleyn propegated as truth. What honest history Ms. Gregory leaves in is random and awkward (such as the mention of Anne's dog, Purkoy, which was haphazardly thrown in towards the end, after he was long dead -- only someone who truly had read up on their Tudor history would recognize and understand such an obscure reference). Her writing style is a tad awkward as well. Enjoyable, but awkward.

What saddens me is this latest rash of interest in King Henry VIII and his court, probably spawned by this and the TV show, "The Tudors." People who read Gregory in the hopes of learning more about the era are going to find themselves sadly bereft of any real historical knowledge. If you are really interested in reading about Anne Boleyn, pick up "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" by Alison Weir. Don't be daunted by the length -- it's a really good read, with a lot of factual information. Read Gregory like you would read a tabloid -- for entertainment, without believing a word of it.
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