The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Digital Audiobook narrated by Susan Lyons
Published by Touchstone Books on May 21st 2003
Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #9
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Romance
Length: 661 pages or 23 hours, 4 minutes
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
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.
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.