Tuesday, January 8, 2013

CBR V # 2 - The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I have been resisting reading Philippa Gregory books for a while cos it's the kind of books my sister reads, girly historical fiction/romance and I've read that many scholars are disputing the accuracy of the book.  But I got curious so...

This is another long-ass book.  It tells the story of how the Boleyns/Howards caught King Henry, but not really.

The story focuses and is narrated by Mary Boleyn, the youngest of the Boleyn siblings (in the book).  Mary is married but catches the eye of the King Henry.  She becomes his mistress and the scheming family try to make her queen.  But then beautiful and volatile Anne comes home from French Court and through strategic flirting, manages to catch the King's heart and steal him away not only from Mary, but from the Queen.  And thus begins the race to bear an heir for the king before he finds a new distractions among the many willing ladies in waiting.

The story is told from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, who was relatively innocent and good hearted.  A simple sort of girl who wants true love and a quiet life.  Anne is portrayed as very smart and cunning but kinds of evil with a raw ambition.  Like she would totally do her brother for an heir kinda ambition.

It was fun to read about the machinations and a sort of insidey look at what purportedly went on at court during the Tudor times.  It was a horrible time for women, that thing is for sure.  They were portrayed as nothing but pawns to gain power for the family and were either mere objects of desire or a vessel for an heir.

However, the book got kinda boring in that the cycles would repeat.  Mary would go to her children in the country estate, Anne would call her back.. so on.  It was quite repetitive actually.  We have numerous paragraphs about Anne looking drawn and being sooo tired from all the acting, prayers that offspring would be male.. That sorta thing.  What I'm saying is, they could have skipped a few years and went a little more directly to the point.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I had an urge to read about the real historical happenings being referred to in this work of fiction.  I will probably read the rest of the series.  I think the other books are shorter.

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