Monday, 10 January 2011

The Other Boleyn Girl

By Philippa Gregory

Well, hmmm. Overall impression: I enjoyed the book, enjoyed reading it. I'm not entirely sure if I *liked* it, though.

It's the story of Mary Boleyn, mistress to Henry VIII of England, and sister to his second wife (one of the beheaded ones). The book was made into a movie a few years ago, but I haven't seen it yet. I did, however, recognize a few scenes from HBO's "The Tudors" which I watched a few minutes of a few years ago when we had cable because it made our internet cheaper. The book was written in '01, so I guess the TV show got some ideas from the book.

Given the subject matter, there was quite a lot of "bedding" going on, but I would judge the book "R" rated rather than "X".

The main complaints were the continual harping on women's rights, and a few gaps in the story. The first - every so often a character would have an outburst about women not being valued, or equal, or free. But the story didn't bear that out to me. It seems that NO one, man or woman, was valued or equal or free. Only the King got whatever he wanted, and even he couldn't get what he wanted most (a son). Inequalities were based more on rank than gender. The second - a few lines were started, but never got back to, and then at the end one person was arrested that I'd never heard of before. That might be a fault with my reading rather than the writing, but it bugged me to have this character show up as if we knew him, and I didn't.

Then of course there's the actual story: family rivalry, beheadings, divorce, church and state politics, and heir-making.

What I hope to take away from the book is an impression of Queen Katherine. She was a real lady. Maybe some would consider her weak or even silly, but I admire the great strength that was required to smile, be gentle and non-reproachful as her husband continued to behave badly. She determined to do the right thing, even in the wrong circumstances, and to focus on charity rather than blaming those who were clearly wrong. It's the sermon on the mount in a corset. :-D

So that's my version of a book review. Hope you enjoy.


Anonymous said...


Ganeida said...

Yes, the bedding & flirting got old fast but that was the times & that was the king ~ so accurate if a little wearing. lol If you like Katherine you should try The Constant Princess. She always sort of bugged me because even divorced & set aside she clung on instead of accepting the inevitable & making another life for herself. Her early life was riveting & explains so much of her latter attitudes. She was a lady & truly devout.

Wil said...

Well-written, Shari.

I do hate books that start story lines that are never finished, or strongly foreshadow something that's never mentioned again...

Sounds like this one had some other redeeming qualities though. :-)