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The Other Boleyn Girl

by Philippa Gregory

Reviewed by Coral


Mary Boleyn has always done what her family wished. When her family asks her to become King Henry VIIIís mistress, despite her marriage and her respect for Queen Katherine Aragon, Mary does as she is commanded, coming to love the King. But when Henryís interest in her wanes, Mary feels betrayed by her family when they suggest her sister Anne take her place in the Kingís bed.

Possessing a ruthlessness that Mary does not, Anne will do everything to become Henryís wife, encouraging the King in his annulment proceedings against Katherine.

Now, Mary wants nothing more than to be allowed to live a quiet with her children. But Anne is determined to have Mary by her side. Can Mary find the strength to break away from her family to find her own happiness?

I am not one to judge a book by its movie, so I went into this book trying to forget the disappointment I felt while watching The Other Boleyn Girl (which I think I managed, because I canít really remember the details of the movie anymore except that I didnít like it). I found like I liked the style of writing while not necessarily liking the overall plot of the book.

I liked seeing Anneís story from a different point of view, though I felt the narrow focus of the book eliminated a lot of characters that feel central to the time: Thomas Cromwell, Charles Brandon, Thomas More, even Cardinal Wolsey seemed to have a relatively minor role in the overall book.

I found it odd that Maryís affair with the King of France was completely ignored in the book. I also thought it was weird that the author chose to present the incestuous relationship between Anne and her brother George as having occurred when it is mostly considered to be false accusations that were made against them.

I didnít really understand the sub-plot about Anne being named the guardian of Maryís son, because nothing really came of it in the end. It just seemed to be a plot contrivance in order to keep Mary by Anneís side and to increase animosity between the two sisters.

I far prefer The Tudors version of Henryís despair when Katherine dies to his celebratory attitude here.

Anne is not always an easy character to like but usually by the end of her story I end up feeling some sympathy for her as she faces execution. Here, I didnít feel the same sympathy and a part of me thinks the author didnít want me to feel sympathy for her in the end

Grade: B