The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl

by Philippa Gregory

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestseller from “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory is a rich, compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue surrounding the Tudor court of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the infamous Boleyn family.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

With more than one million copies in print and adapted for the big screen, The Other Boleyn Girl is a riveting historical drama. It brings to light a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe, and survived a treacherous political landscape by following her heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743227445
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 05/21/2002
Series: Plantagenet and Tudor Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 56,329
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Many of her works have been adapted for the screen including The Other Boleyn Girl. Her most recent novel, The Last Tudor, is now in production for a television series. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She founded Gardens for the Gambia, a charity to dig wells in poor rural schools in The Gambia, and has provided nearly 200 wells. She welcomes visitors to her website PhilippaGregory.com.

Hometown:

Yorkshire, England

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa

Education:

B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984

Read an Excerpt

Spring 1521

I could hear a roll of muffled drums. But I could see nothing but the lacing on the bodice of the lady standing in front of me, blocking my view of the scaffold. I had been at this court for more than a year and attended hundreds of festivities; but never before one like this.

By stepping to one side a little and craning my neck, I could see the condemned man, accompanied by his priest, walk slowly from the Tower toward the green where the wooden platform was waiting, the block of wood placed center stage, the executioner dressed all ready for work in his shirtsleeves with a black hood over his head. It looked more like a masque than a real event, and I watched it as if it were a court entertainment. The king, seated on his throne, looked distracted, as if he was running through his speech of forgiveness in his head. Behind him stood my husband of one year, William Carey, my brother, George, and my father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, all looking grave. I wriggled my toes inside my silk slippers and wished the king would hurry up and grant clemency so that we could all go to breakfast. I was only thirteen years old, I was always hungry.

The Duke of Buckinghamshire, far away on the scaffold, put off his thick coat. He was close enough kin for me to call him uncle. He had come to my wedding and given me a gilt bracelet. My father told me that he had offended the king a dozen ways: he had royal blood in his veins and he kept too large a retinue of armed men for the comfort of a king not yet wholly secure on his throne; worst of all he was supposed to have said that the king had no son and heir now, could get no son and heir, and that he would likely diewithout a son to succeed him to the throne.

Such a thought must not be said out loud. The king, the court, the whole country knew that a boy must be born to the queen, and born soon. To suggest otherwise was to take the first step on the path that led to the wooden steps of the scaffold which the duke, my uncle, now climbed, firmly and without fear. A good courtier never refers to any unpalatable truths. The life of a court should always be merry.

Uncle Stafford came to the front of the stage to say his final words. I was too far from him to hear, and in any case I was watching the king, waiting for his cue to step forward and offer the royal pardon. This man standing on the scaffold, in the sunlight of the early morning, had been the king's partner at tennis, his rival on the jousting field, his friend at a hundred bouts of drinking and gambling, they had been comrades since the king was a boy. The king was teaching him a lesson, a powerful public lesson, and then he would forgive him and we could all go to breakfast.

The little faraway figure turned to his confessor. He bowed his head for a blessing and kissed the rosary. He knelt before the block and clasped it in both hands. I wondered what it must

be like, to put one's cheek to the smooth waxed wood, to smell the warm wind coming off the river, to hear, overhead, the cry of seagulls. Even knowing as he did that this was a masque and not the real thing, it must be odd for Uncle to put his head down and know that the executioner was standing behind.

The executioner raised his ax. I looked toward the king. He was leaving his intervention very late. I glanced back at the stage. My uncle, head down, flung wide his arms, a sign of his consent, the signal that the ax could fall. I looked back to the king, he must rise to his feet now. But he still sat, his handsome face grim. And while I was still looking toward him there was another roll of drums, suddenly silenced, and then the thud of the ax, first once, then again and a third time: a sound as domestic as chopping wood. Disbelievingly, I saw the head of my uncle bounce into the straw and a scarlet gush of blood from the strangely stumpy neck. The black-hooded axman put the great stained ax to one side and lifted the head by the thick curly hair, so that we could all see the strange mask-like thing: black with the blindfold from forehead to nose, and the teeth bared in a last defiant grin.

The king rose slowly from his seat and I thought, childishly, "Dear God, how awfully embarrassing this is going to be. He has left it too late. It has all gone wrong. He forgot to speak in time."

But I was wrong. He did not leave it too late, he did not forget. He wanted my uncle to die before the court so that everybody might know that there was only one king, and that was Henry. There could be only one king, and that was Henry. And there would be a son born to this king -- and even to suggest otherwise meant a shameful death.


The court returned quietly to Westminster Palace in three barges, rowed up the river. The men on the riverbank pulled off their hats and kneeled as the royal barge went swiftly past with a flurry of pennants and a glimpse of rich cloth. I was in the second barge with the ladies of the court, the queen's barge. My mother was seated near me. In a rare moment of interest she glanced at me and remarked, "You're very pale, Mary, are you feeling sick?"

"I didn't think he would be executed," I said. "I thought the king would forgive him."

My mother leaned forward so that her mouth was at my ear and no one could have heard us over the creaking of the boat and the beat of the rowers' drum. "Then you are a fool," she said shortly. "And a fool to remark it. Watch and learn, Mary. There is no room for mistakes at court."

Copyright © 2001 by Philippa Gregory Ltd.

What People are Saying About This

Liz Smith

OPTION IT! OPTION IT! I do mean Philippa Gregory's amazing historical novel "The Other Boleyn Girl." What a book...I read this book in one delicious gulp. It would make a whopper of a film, with two great roles for two great, young actresses.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide for The Other Boleyn Girl
Discussion Points
1. Why does Philippa Gregory choose Mary to narrate the story? Keeping in mind the relationship between the observer and those observed, is Mary a good, trustworthy, narrator? As Mary ages, how is her loss of innocence reflected in her telling of the story?
2. Look at the exchange between Mary and her mother at the end of the first chapter. How does the author foreshadow what is to come? How do the events of the first chapter frame the entire story?
3. Discuss the Boleyn family's scheming and jockeying for favor in the court. In light of these politics, discuss the significance of Mary's explanation that she had "a talent for loving [the king]" (page 119). Is this simply a girl's fantasy? Why does Mary call herself and George "a pair of pleasant snakes" (page 131)?
4. On page 29, Mary professes her love and admiration for Queen Katherine and feels she can't betray her. In what ways are her honorable ideals compromised as she embarks on her adulterous affair with the king? Recount the whirlwind of events preceding Anne's becoming queen. Reading page 352, do you agree that "from start to finish" Mary "had no choice" but to betray Queen Katherine by taking the queen's letter to her uncle?
5. Consider pages 38 and 82. How does the author create sexual tension? How do the narrator's thoughts and feelings communicate the attraction between her and the king? Why is this important to the story of The Other Boleyn Girl?
6. On page 85, Anne tells Mary, "I am happy for the family. I hardly ever think about you." Do you think she's telling the truth? Later, Anne says to her sister, "We'll always be nothing to our family" (page 310). Do you think she believes this, especially given her overwhelming desire to advance her own status?
7. Why does Mary say, "I felt like a parcel..." (page 60)? What happens later to make Mary think she's no longer a "pawn" of the family, but "at the very least, a castle, a player in the game" (page 173)?
8. Look at the exchange between Mary and Anne about the king on page 72. Do you agree with Anne when she tells Mary that "you can't desire [the king] like an ordinary man and forget the crown on his head." What does this statement reveal about Anne's nature? And what does it reveal about Mary's?
9. In general, what are your impressions of the sisters? Keep in mind Anne and Mary's discussion on page 104: "So who would come after me?...I could make my own way." Also look at page 123, when Anne says, "Hear this, Mary...I will kill you." Why are these statements significant, particularly given their timing?
10. Share some of the characteristics that you like about historical fiction. For you, what aspect of The Other Boleyn Girl stands out the most? How does the book change your impressions of life in King Henry VIII's court? Looking at the letter on page 275, discuss the level of corruption in the court. Does it surprise you? Were you aware of Anne's dogged and exhausting pursuit of the king? Did the way Anne became queen shock you?
11. How do you feel about the idea that a woman had to be married before she could bed the king? What do you think about the king changing the laws to suit his needs? When Anne states that "Nothing will ever be the same for any woman in this country again," examine why she could believe she would be exempt from the same treatment. In other words, why didn't she realize that "when she overthrew a queen that thereafter all queens would be unsteady" (page 519)? Do you think the family realized this but persevered anyway?
12. Discuss Mary's evolution of thinking from when she realizes that after Queen Katherine's departure, "from this time onward no wife...would be safe" with her later thought (on page 468) that "the triumph of Anne, the mistress who had become a wife, was an inspiration to every loose girl in the country." What does this say about Mary's state of mind? Is she being a reliable narrator here?
13. On page 303, George exclaims to Mary, "You cannot really want to be a nobody." Why is this such a revolutionary idea in Henry's court, and for the Boleyns in particular? What should the response have been to Mary's question to Anne (page 330) about the rewards of Anne's impending marriage to the king: "What is there for me?"
14. In King Henry's court, homosexuality was a crime. Why do you think George essentially flaunted his preference? What do you make of the intimate kiss between George and Anne that Mary witnessed? What is the impetus behind George and Anne's relationship? Discuss whether or not you believe that George slept with Anne so that she might have a son, and why.
15. Why do you think George declares that Anne is "the only Boleyn anyone will ever know or remember" (page 410)? Was that true for you before you read The Other Boleyn Girl? What about now?
16. After Anne is arrested, Mary pleads for her by saying, "We did nothing more than that was ordered. We only ever did as we were commanded. Is she to die for being an obedient daughter?" (page 650). What is your reaction to these arguments? Did Henry have no choice but to sentence her to death?

Introduction

Reading Group Guide for The Other Boleyn Girl

Discussion Points

1. Why does Philippa Gregory choose Mary to narrate the story? Keeping in mind the relationship between the observer and those observed, is Mary a good, trustworthy, narrator? As Mary ages, how is her loss of innocence reflected in her telling of the story?

2. Look at the exchange between Mary and her mother at the end of the first chapter. How does the author foreshadow what is to come? How do the events of the first chapter frame the entire story?

3. Discuss the Boleyn family's scheming and jockeying for favor in the court. In light of these politics, discuss the significance of Mary's explanation that she had "a talent for loving [the king]" (page 119). Is this simply a girl's fantasy? Why does Mary call herself and George "a pair of pleasant snakes" (page 131)?

4. On page 29, Mary professes her love and admiration for Queen Katherine and feels she can't betray her. In what ways are her honorable ideals compromised as she embarks on her adulterous affair with the king? Recount the whirlwind of events preceding Anne's becoming queen. Reading page 352, do you agree that "from start to finish" Mary "had no choice" but to betray Queen Katherine by taking the queen's letter to her uncle?

5. Consider pages 38 and 82. How does the author create sexual tension? How do the narrator's thoughts and feelings communicate the attraction between her and the king? Why is this important to the story of The Other Boleyn Girl?

6. On page 85, Anne tells Mary, "I am happy for the family. I hardly ever think about you." Do you think she's telling the truth? Later, Anne says to her sister,"We'll always be nothing to our family" (page 310). Do you think she believes this, especially given her overwhelming desire to advance her own status?

7. Why does Mary say, "I felt like a parcel..." (page 60)? What happens later to make Mary think she's no longer a "pawn" of the family, but "at the very least, a castle, a player in the game" (page 173)?

8. Look at the exchange between Mary and Anne about the king on page 72. Do you agree with Anne when she tells Mary that "you can't desire [the king] like an ordinary man and forget the crown on his head." What does this statement reveal about Anne's nature? And what does it reveal about Mary's?

9. In general, what are your impressions of the sisters? Keep in mind Anne and Mary's discussion on page 104: "So who would come after me?...I could make my own way." Also look at page 123, when Anne says, "Hear this, Mary...I will kill you." Why are these statements significant, particularly given their timing?

10. Share some of the characteristics that you like about historical fiction. For you, what aspect of The Other Boleyn Girl stands out the most? How does the book change your impressions of life in King Henry VIII's court? Looking at the letter on page 275, discuss the level of corruption in the court. Does it surprise you? Were you aware of Anne's dogged and exhausting pursuit of the king? Did the way Anne became queen shock you?

11. How do you feel about the idea that a woman had to be married before she could bed the king? What do you think about the king changing the laws to suit his needs? When Anne states that "Nothing will ever be the same for any woman in this country again," examine why she could believe she would be exempt from the same treatment. In other words, why didn't she realize that "when she overthrew a queen that thereafter all queens would be unsteady" (page 519)? Do you think the family realized this but persevered anyway?

12. Discuss Mary's evolution of thinking from when she realizes that after Queen Katherine's departure, "from this time onward no wife...would be safe" with her later thought (on page 468) that "the triumph of Anne, the mistress who had become a wife, was an inspiration to every loose girl in the country." What does this say about Mary's state of mind? Is she being a reliable narrator here?

13. On page 303, George exclaims to Mary, "You cannot really want to be a nobody." Why is this such a revolutionary idea in Henry's court, and for the Boleyns in particular? What should the response have been to Mary's question to Anne (page 330) about the rewards of Anne's impending marriage to the king: "What is there for me?"

14. In King Henry's court, homosexuality was a crime. Why do you think George essentially flaunted his preference? What do you make of the intimate kiss between George and Anne that Mary witnessed? What is the impetus behind George and Anne's relationship? Discuss whether or not you believe that George slept with Anne so that she might have a son, and why.

15. Why do you think George declares that Anne is "the only Boleyn anyone will ever know or remember" (page 410)? Was that true for you before you read The Other Boleyn Girl? What about now?

16. After Anne is arrested, Mary pleads for her by saying, "We did nothing more than that was ordered. We only ever did as we were commanded. Is she to die for being an obedient daughter?" (page 650). What is your reaction to these arguments? Did Henry have no choice but to sentence her to death?

Philippa Gregory is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance. A writer and broadcaster for radio and television, she lives in England. She welcomes visitors and messages at her website, www.philippagregory.com.

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The Other Boleyn Girl 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1365 reviews.
moodswiings More than 1 year ago
If this era fascinates you, then you will find this book one you will not want to put down. I enjoyed the fact that it was based around Mary Boelyn, even after the king began to favor Ann. Although, a story based on Ann Boelyn's point of view would also be very intriguing. This is the first book I've read by Philippa Gregory and I'm excited to read more! I would also like to add, please don't read this book if you are trying to learn some hard facts. Don't review this book and give it one star just because it's not written like a history book. That's why it's under the fiction section! It's mean't to be entertaining and fun and actually makes your imagination wheels spin rather than just feeding facts to mindless readers. :) Happy reading.
AllOverTheBoard More than 1 year ago
If you've seen the movie - you must read the book. I saw the movie first and it struck my curiousity due to how it ended and the characters remaining - didn't realize the lineage of Elizabeth I - The Virgin Queen. So I picked out several books by Gregory and read The Constant Princess first, followed by The Other Boleyn Girl.
Gregory is a great writer and you get a manner of s history lesson without feeling like you're reading a text book. Amazing what families did and put their loved one's through to gain favor with royalty - makes you thankful to be a woman in today's society.

Consider this a GREAT read and can not wait to read more from Gregory
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.  The sheer scope of this novel is gigantic -- there were so many things that were going on both on and off stage and the number of people that were involved in all these shenanigans! So that it was a treat to find that the novel unfolded smoothly and effortlessly, and that Gregory did not drop the ball once. She kept each chapter short and succinct, and yet still managed to give the reader an enthralling and exciting account of what was going on. I also liked the manner in which she depicted all the characters in this novel. From Queen Katherine who was portrayed not only as a loyal and loving wife, but also as an intelligent woman who saw and understood what was going on around her, even as she clung to the hope that the king would recover from his obsession with Anne; to the authour's chilling portrayal of the Boleyn family (father, mother, Anne and George). With a few well chosen words and phrases, she's paints them as wildly ambitious, ruthless and pettily cruel individuals, willing to use each other in order to achieve a particular goal. But the authour's characterization of Mary Boleyn was probably the best thing in the novel. Here we see a young and intelligent woman with a heart and a sense of morality that is constantly at war with her feeling of familial obligations. How Mary struggles with this dueling feelings and the decisions she makes -- sometimes good, sometimes bad -- is what makes this novel worth reading. All in all, I'd say "The Other Boleyn Girl" is a rich and rewarding read.  
spiwow More than 1 year ago
A taste - no, a mouthfull of everything one would want from a historical romance. Couldn't wait to get home & continue reading. Finished in 4 days. This was my first Phillipa Gregory novel but, certainly not the last!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come on guys, it's a novel. Where does it say that it's historical facts that should be taken as such? It's a STORY, a work of fiction, and the author does a terrific job with it. If you want history, go find a textbook. This is an amazing novel, regardless of how "inaccurate" it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a great book. It's intresting and gets people into researching the tudor era. I feel like the people who read this novel expecting it to be a correct reflection on history also watched titantic thinking Jack and rose are real people
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two questions:Entertaining? Yes, it was. Turthful? Not in the least! I've spent next to a quarter of my life studying the Tudors, and I assure you that there are several, plot changing, dire mistakes in this book, which could only have come about by the Author's 1)sheer ignorance, or 2)inability to care. You want to read this, then I say go for it. It is an entertaining way to pass the time, but please PLEASE don't take half the things in this book for fact. It just simply is not.
Ann-Elizabeth More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I read regarding Tudor England. When I first read it, I loved it, and I still think it was an amazing piece of fiction. It definitely got me interested in the period and the characters. But as I started my own research and reading other books on the subject, I began to feel as though I had been misled. . .She actually gets a lot of her facts wrong. And I know that this is just a pitfall of historical fiction, but she was heavily biased. Ann came out looking like a horrible person, and Katherine of Aragon and her daughter Mary saints. I feel like this is an unfair portrayal of the characters, especially since later in her life Mary came to be known as Bloody Mary!!! I liked it and I would recommend it, but only if you know going into it that you are reading more fiction than history.
rmm More than 1 year ago
People normally think that history is not very interesting and quite dull, I was once one of those people, but after I read this book I became fascinated with history. This book shows a side of history we are not normally prone to see. The lies and betrayal that come side by side to power are incredible. Henry VII, an English king was happily married to his beautiful Spanish wife Catherine of Aragon, who unfortunately, could not give Henry the thing he most yearned for and needed...an heir to the throne, a son. This is where the Boleyn family enters . The handsome and fickle king immediately had his eyes on the beautiful Mary Boleyn, awestruck that a king wanted her, Mary fell in love and became the King's mistress. Only to find out later that her family had planned this all along, she was to give birth to a Tudor son. But what about the other Boleyn girl, Anne? Tired of being under her sisiter's shadow, she decides it's her time in the spotlight. This strong-willed brunnete takes over in one of the greatest courts in all the world. This book shows us the power that women have over men, even the most greedy, self-centered ones and the astonishing things a woman will do to get to the top, even sidestep her own flesh and blood. This book immerses you in a life full of drama, betrayal, sex and lies, a courtier's life. The Other Boleyn Girl will keep you flipping the pages untiil you finish, ignoring everything else altogether. The characters will make you love them or they will make you want to throw the book at a wall, but keep on reading, it's worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love history, so historical fiction is a passion of mine. It just so happens that i am fascinated with king henry viii... And anne boleyn. I found this book well written, but i was disappointed on her lack of historical facts. Mary was not the younger sister... Phillipa portrays mary as this sweet, naive, girl... But history knows that she is known as the 'english mare' to king francis, and was passed along to more that one nobleman. I personally found distain in her portrayal of anne, almost as if she had a personal piff against her. Anne was as much a victim of her father's scheming as mary was. But mary came out alive after her family was excecuted. I was not too thrilled with this book... If you know the real story of the boleyn's, andlove true history... You will be disappointed
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Other Boleyn Girl' was a engrossing novel but went overboard on literary license. Marry was not married at the age of twelve, she was Anne's older sister, and Anne was nowhere near the witch (though she was no saint) that she is portrayed as in this novel. The whole incest scandal was way overplayed. Most modern people dismiss the adultery/incest charges against Anne as entirely Henry's invention. Anne was not stupid. Even if she were crazy enough to commit adultery, don't you think she could find a slightly more suitable candidate than her own brother??? If the adultery charges were true, then she'd obviously found four other 'worthy' men. Even the author admits that the whole homosexual scandal was gotten from one author's thesis! This book seemed hell-bent on making Anne Boleyn look like the Queen of the Damned, the most selfish and vile and sinful thing ever to walk the earth!!! It scooped up all the nastiest gossip about her, presented it as fact, and included some rather nasty unrequired sex-talk scenes into the bargain. I do, however, applaud the seemingly accurate description of Katherine of Aragon. ~Pilar P.S. For the woman who watched 'Elizabeth' to get more historical information, you couldn't have picked a more historically inaccurate movie. Read Antonia Frasier or Alison Weir.
michdubb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Delicious page turner. Even though you know how it will end, you still want to keep reading. The romance between Mary and the "Nobody" is lovely. The Anne character is so enchanting and so so manipulative.
saskreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a good, but not great, portrayal of the court of Henry VIII at the time of Anne Boleyn. It is good because the subject matter itself is so compelling, even if one knows the outcome; it is not great because the writing is pulpy and a bit low-caliber. I am mystified as to why the editor of this book let the phrase "...s/he said flatly" be used, oh, say 30 times or more. Is there no other way to describe this action? I am also not a fan of chapter endings like "And I never saw him alive again." Nevertheless, this is an engaging page-turner that does it's job of being good historical fiction.
MerryMary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tudor royalty has always held a fascination for me. This is a familiar story - told from an unusual point of view. I knew (from Victoria Holt's novel of Katherine) that Henry had Anne's sister Mary for a mistress, but having Mary tell the story is very interesting. The ruthlessness of the Boleyn family (with the Howards) was brilliantly portrayed through Mary's eyes.
Dnorthup on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed just about every page of this book. Even though I am well aware of the general outcome of the story, it was refreshing to see it from the point-of-view of Mary Boleyn. The fate of Mary was the true mystery throoughout. Would Anne drag her down with her in her deceits and treachery? Gregory did a superb job of sticking to the real history and wrapping it all in a very exciting and readable story.
ajjacobson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel concerns the early life of Mary Boleyn and her infamous sister, Anne. Mary Boleyn is a young, innocent girl who is commanded by her male elders to seduce the King. After bearing two of his children, King Henry loses interest in Mary instead favoring her sister Anne. Anne struggles with the King, wanting to be more than just a mistress to his desires. She has her heart set on becoming Queen, and will do anything to achieve that end. The book delves into the interesting love-hate relationship between the sisters, the role of women at Court, and the various ethical views of the time (divorce, homosexuality, etc). This book did prove to be an excellent tie to our theme of cultural identity and isolation. The main character, Mary, is always surrounded by the pleasantries of the English Court, yet she is disregarded because of her gender. She must do exactly as she is told by the males in her family, ignoring her own feelings and ambitions. She is surrounded by people, yet she is utterly alone. There is no one for her to talk to about her true desires. In the end she breaks away from her structured society and decides to take charge of her own life, despite the consequences. This novel was definitely NOT my favorite. It was rather long and there really wasn't much action. It got rather dull at times. Personally, the last three novels I have read have been classic works of literature. This "modern" novel just does not captivate and intrigue the mind as much. For one thing, instead of using allusions and letting the reader discover things on their own, the author feels as though she must tell the reader everything directly. I do not like this "directness" but instead prefer the more intelligent classic novels.
neverlistless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this for a book club at work, and to be honest, I probably wouldn't have finished it if not for that club. I'm glad I did because it got much better at the end - but for the first 300 pages I just wasn't sure I could hang in there.This one was really interesting because it focused mainly on Mary Boleyn, Queen Anne Boleyn's sister, the sister who doesn't get too much press. She had a very interesting story - married at 13, bedded with the King by 15 - and then realized that life at Court isn't so grand. For me, there was not a single likable character in the first half of the book (possibly with the exception of Katherine of Aragon), but Mary becomes more and more likable and I definitely started pulling for her to buck tradition and to get on with her on life as a "nobody!" This was rich with history and even made me do a bit of research into the time period. I was admittedly ignorant about the time period, but I find myself wanting to learn more and more to see what pieces were "historical" and which pieces were "fiction" in Gregory's novel.
Alliebadger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a little torn about this book. It was definitely a page-turner and I could fall into it quite easily. I could identify with the narrator, Mary, and follow her thought process every step of the way. I was occasionally surprised at how much I could read in one sitting. But I had some problems with it as well. About halfway through, Mary stops caring about the court and all she wants to do is be at the family home of Hever with her children. This is all fine and well, but all the action that she reports on and that is vital to the plot happens at court. So we get pages and pages and pages of court dealings we're given no reason to care about and, if we're lucky, a few paragraphs of her summers at Hever. I was annoyed that the detail seemed to come into the wrong places at many times. Overall though, if you're looking for historical fiction and don't mind trudging through some things, go for it.
mzebra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I typically don't dive into romantic type novels but I could not put this novel down. I am a bit apprehensive to watch the movie because there is no way the motion pictures could have done this book justice. Gregory has really issued a detailed masterpiece. The way it was written makes you feel like you were right there, along with the court. Many colorful descriptions and a wide array of emotions.
bratlaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was about Anne Bolelyn told through her sister's eyes, Mary. Mary was King Henry VIII mistress and fathered 2 children by him but when his interests wained he turn to her sister Anne and fell in love. King Henry had to get rid of his current wife, Katherine, before he could marry Anne. What a cold man King Henry was and in my opinion crazy. He did not care who he hurt or killed to get what he wanted.
JillMcCaghern on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Henry first notices Mary Boleyn Carey, he is attracted to her refreshing candor and youthful exuberance as well as her bright-eyed beauty. Mary, already married, is acceptable for a tryst with the King. A dalliance would actually be scandalous were she not married, a virgin and therefore prime for marriage to a noble. Mary's sister, the erudite Anne, recently returned from the French Court, is one of the clever minds pushing Mary to prominence as the King's paramour. The third Boleyn, George, their brother, is also a popular member of the current royal Court. Sisters and brother form the family triumvirate that is an essential element of the intrigue surrounding the eventual dissolution of marriage to Katherine of Aragon that will set a precedent and change the history of England.Mary is the primary focus of the novel, even when replaced in the King's affections by her duplicitous sister, Anne. Yet Mary remains a trusted royal confidante and servant of her family's interests. George and Mary are instructed by their family to retain their favored positions in support of the clever, if unlikable, Anne. For five long years Anne seduces and challenges Henry, until she herself is crowned Queen. The faithful Mary remains at her sister's side, forced to watch Anne's increasing emotional instability. Eventually, Henry tires of Anne's insufferable temper and constant demands, his attention captured by the seemingly docile and self-effacing behavior of a simpering Jane Seymour. Anne must live with the precedent she's established, swept aside by the King in his desperate pursuit of another fertile woman to provide his male progeny.
Voracious_Reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was entirely ready to call Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl a delicious piece of smut. Then, I realized that that simply wasn't giving it it's just due. It was an exceptionally quick read for being slightly over 700 hundred pages. If you enjoy light historical fiction, I would highly recommend it.It was fun if not entirely historically accurate. I wont go into the deviations from accepted history, as that would ruin aspects of the story. I realized that anyone writing about Henry VIII's wives would find it difficult not to read a little bit like a romance novel at times. Gregory really didn't slip too often into lurid details, and she really gave a good feel for the comings and goings to and from the Tudor Court. In terms of historical drama, I prefer Gulland's ability to craft characters with greater depth and sense of purpose to Gregory's entertaining but weaker narrator and a 21st century perspective that creeps around all four of the book's corner, but I will gladly read another Gregory book.
EverydayMiracles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa GregoryThe Other Boleyn Girl is a book that has haunted me since the movie was released. Although I didn't see the film until after I had read the book (and thank goodness, too!), the book kept calling to me, mostly because I had heard the title and the concept sounded interesting -- the story of Anne Boleyn, told from the perspective of her sister.Who doesn't know the story of Anne Boleyn, the woman who dethroned Catherine of Aragon and married King Henry VIII? It was Anne Boleyn who helped Henry to found the Church of England, and it was Anne who was the first executed wife of King Henry the VIII, put to death on charges of incest, adultery and treason.The stories of the other Boleyns are less-told: George and Thomas, Mary and Elizabeth (Anne's Mother, not her daughter) are less well known. The Other Boleyn Girl begins to tell the story of Anne's siblings, Mary and George, and the relationships that they had with one another and with Anne.In spite of my intense desire to read The Other Boleyn Girl, I was disturbed the idea that I believed the book would be dry. I pondered the length of the novel (nearly 700 pages) and the content (I am no a history buff by any means) and several times overlooked the book. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money on this novel.When I ran into The Other Boleyn Girl at a used book store, however, I snatched it up eagerly and perhaps a bit greedily and read it promptly.While Philippa Gregory takes some license with the story line regarding Mary, George and even Anne, I felt that this book was a wonderful, fast-paced and easy read. I was able to pick it up and put it down during waiting periods and still finished reading it within a week of having started the book.I highly recommend The Other Boleyn Girl and look forward to reviewing other books in the Tudors series!
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I initially picked up this book because I loved the movie. I immediately realized that this powerfully written book far eclipsed the movie. Set in the court of Henry VIII, this is the intriguing story of the Boleyn Girls, Anne and Mary. The characters come to life as they fight for the King¿s affection and advancement of their family. I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.
Stefibeth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've ever read! Before I started reading, I was a little unsure as to whether I'd be able to get into this nearly 700 page book, but I was delightfully surprised! This one is a page turner!