When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of 14, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both the golden prince and her growing role as an unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots when the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her powerfully ambitious sister, Anne Boleyn. As Mary watches Anne manipulate her rise to the throne, Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take her fate into her own hands.
A rich and compelling tale of love, ambition, lust, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the very center of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her heart.
©2011 Philippa Gregory (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"You want a real page-turner, but you don't want to tarnish your reputation for literary taste. The Other Boleyn Girl is your kind of... book." (Newsday)
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons
It's hard not to find Phillipa Gregory skills downright envious at times. She has a way of taking you there that all writers try to do and only the really good ones are able to achieve outright. This is the type of title that you can sit back in a dark room and allow yourself to be taken there. I was taken there many a times just listening to the narrator, listening to the engrossing story.
The story of Mary Boleyn (the other Boleyn girl) is one of pure intrigue. You cannot help but pity her and how she seemed to be used and manipulated for his family's ambition. She seemed genuinely an honest woman, a true 'rose' of the court despite what she seemed to be doing to Catherine of Aragon, she did still seemed subservient to the queen at the time. Anne Boleyn's character takes a new light in the book and see a woman somewhat blinded by ambition who is thrust in a situation that she simply could no longer control. You see the transformation of the King from a handsome young man to a cruel old man. You see the constant struggle of George Boleyn with his marriage to Jane and his sexuality. The uncle... Uncle Howard... you see the start of his treachery which carries over to "The Boleyn Inheritance". You also see the fall of the strong and majestic Queen Catherine of Aragon. The entire story itself is enthralling.
The narrator does a really good job. I thought I was listening to Mary herself throughout the book, or at least how I think Mary would sound in my mind. She does a very good job of taking you to that moment in time, you sense the childish romanticism as a teenager and her maturing into a woman, a mother, you can feel her fear as things in the court became more dangerous... Absolutely beautiful narration in short.
This is a wonderful book. It's not the movie tie-in version, though, so keep in mind that this story differs a little from the movie. Still, it's a great listen, and a very interesting account of what Anne Boleyn's rise and fall might have looked like through the eyes of her sister, Mary Boleyn.
Susan Lyons is an excellent narrator; I've bought other books just because she's narrated them, and am looking forward to listening to her again!
Since I am very familiar with the history, I found myself continually have to verify events that were presented as fact by the author. For example, Mary was not the younger girl as told in this story, but was in fact the older sister. Additionally, it was unlikely that Mary was present at the execution. Most modern historians confirm that she was not even in the city at the time and had been banished to Rochford with her husband. Realizing that this is fiction, I am fine with an author taking some liberties with the truth, such as interpolating motives and thoughts to the characters, but I find it disconcerting when accepted facts are clearly changed to suit the author's plot
My other criticism was that the characters were portrayed as timeless archetypes instead of complex characters. Mary was the epitome of all that good and virtuous. She was the victim of her circumstances, completely manipulated by her family. Whereas, Anne was the essence of evil. She was vindictive, vain, manipulative, and cruel. I find this Snow White vs. The Evil Queen ploy to be an overly-simplistic way of looking at these complex characters.
Also, the description of Mary's second marriage was really unbelievable. The notion that she joyfully accepted the role of farmer's wife with no apparent difficulty was incongruent with the harsh realities of life on an English farm in that time period, especially for someone accustomed to life at the royal court. She would have had to work all day and well into the night. I was almost ready for her to pull a Snow White and break into "Whistle while you work."
I did appreciate that the author selected to tell the story from the point of view of minor character in history. I just think that she could have done a better job with her portrayal.
It also seemed she forced the Boleyn self-identification. I found myself rolling my eyes whenever Mary exclaimed, "I have to do as I am told. I am a BOLEYN girl!" This same line was very overused.
The actress who read the book was excellent. Her performance and depiction of the characters was superb.
Overall, I was entertained. I could even deal with the cartoonish characters if the history has been portrayed more accurately. That fact led to this mediocre review.
This was my first Phillipa Gregory novel and I am hooked! This book is exceptional in every way...story, characters, descriptions, pacing and narration. What a beautiful way to learn history!
While I wouldn't quite put it in the same class as Shogun, First Man in Rome, or Memoirs of a Geisha, and while the target audience is clearly women who are interested in a higher-class of romance novel, this novel did not disappoint. Brings to life the characters to the degree that you will be tempted (successfully) into googling the truth of their existence!
Well done and well worth the credit!
Learning the history in a way that is so easy. I can't wait to get in my car to drive somewhere because I listen to this story. It is very well written, it flows, has intrigue, doesn't get hung up on lots of details, yet one learns many details woven into the fabric of the story. The dialogue is great!
William Stafford. He is level headed, loving, supportive.
No. I listen to it while driving.
I have listened to other books in the Philippa Gregory series and will listen to more. They are among the best historical fiction I have "read".
I started reading this (I am sorry to say) because of the movie I watched. However, I became hooked with Phillippa Greggory's writing. This is not meant to be a complete historical account of the time but a picture into how one person could have viewed the world around them. I loved this book!
Mary Boleyn - The book is very sympathetic to the narrator, but the author does a good job of showing the changes in perspective the charactor goes through as she ages.
While the book may be historically inaccurate, the details of living in the Tudor period ring true, and the charactors are well developed.
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