Book Review: “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory

Posted on June 28, 2015 in Review / 0 Comments

37470Series: The Tudor Court, #2
Published: 2001
Page Count: 661
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Romance, Adult, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, European Literature, British Literature
Read Count: Twice
Duration: June 4th-18th, 2015.
Rated? Five Stars

Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: The love of a king

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

A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamourous court in Europe and survived by following her heart.

TLDR?

Wonderfully told, and from the right point-of-view. Complex characters and strong plot without overwhelmingly graphic scenes.  Audio book also recommended.

The fact that this story is told from Mary’s point-of-view, and not from Anne’s, makes all the difference in the world. In the tellings of the Tudorian Court, it is easy to fall into the tangle of sex, intrigue, and sin. Mary is an outlier to that world, and when she is pushed into it, she remains uncorrupted by their games. She does what she does with all the honesty she can muster, with her whole heart. Mary is not blameless – she cuckolded her husband, after all – but in a Gammorah, she comes out rather clean, which is how Gregory’s story manages to retain an intriguing plot line and not fall away into endless scene of sexual endeavors. If the story had been written from Anne’s point-of-view, this would be a much, much different tale.

As far as the writing goes, the story is compelling, even for the daunting size of the novel, and the characters are varied just enough that you can love or hate them all respectively, but they are complicated. You cannot really hate Anne, not to the core, when you see her through Mary’s eyes, and Gregory does a marvelous job of building sympathy for event he worst of the characters.

Overall, a good enough read that I’ve now read it twice and enjoyed it equally both times, This second time, I indulged in the audiobook read by Susan Lyons (this is the unabridged one… I cannot abide abridged books. WHY.) and I thought she did a fantastic job of bringing all the characters to life, but Mary in particular. Well done.

Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Audible.
Available on Kindle, Nook, & iBooks.

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