25 July 2011

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Set in sixteenth century England, The Other Boleyn Girl is a fascinating piece of historical fiction about the rise and fall of an aristocratic family during the Tudor era. Told from the point of view of Mary Boleyn, the considerably more famous Anne Boleyn’s sister, it is the story of vicious sibling rivalry set on a backdrop of suffocating courtier life where pretty daughters are currency for ambitious families. Gregory’s keen attention to detail envelopes the reader in rich velvet and lace and opens the doors to a privileged life of royal feasts, jousts and masquerades.    
I enjoyed Gregory’s portrayal of Mary Boleyn and I rooted for her independence from the court as well as the demise of her sister Anne, even if both characters weren’t completely true to their real life namesakes. The story was beautifully told and gave me a new understanding of the culture and customs of old England; I especially liked the fiery infatuation between Henry and Anne which the author executed with precision.  
As a writer, there was one “no-no” I caught in the book. When choosing a point of view, it is important to stick with that point of view for the duration of the story. Gregory chose to write from Mary’s point of view however she sometimes almost slipped into an omnipresent POV in which Mary narrated about things she wouldn’t have known. Such as intimate moments between the king and Anne. That said it could be assumed that Anne revealed these details to Mary herself, which would make sense as she was quite open. In any event, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book or distract from the development of the plot. All in all it was an incredibly interesting read and I would recommend it to other historical fiction fans. After reading The Other Boleyn Girl, I fully intend on checking out more of Philippa Gregory’s work particularly the several other books in the Tudor Series.

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