Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Wow, the timing was right for reading this hefty 660-page novel, The Other Boleyn Girl. I just returned from taking my 16 year-old daughter to Paris and Amsterdam. One of our excursions included a visit to the Palace of Versailles, home of Marie Antoinette, which is similar to English palaces and life in the Tudor court, the background for this historical novel.

***Warning: This novel has a few sexual passages. As a profession, librarians judge books by their entire content, not a few pages, so I am giving this exciting novel a thumbs up.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a fascinating lesson in English history, specifically the Tudor dynasty, and why our country has the seapration of church and state.

Gregory's book to movie follows the rivalries between the two Boleyn sisters, Mary and Anne, as they rise to court and vie for the attention King Henry VIII at any cost. Manipulation and back stabbing don't even come close to the dangerous games these maidens play to advance the Boleyn family fortune and name.

At the tender age of 14, sweet innocent Mary captures the King's attention and is ordered by her family to become his mistress, since she already married, and bears him two bastard children. Meanwhile, Anne, her vicious and ruthless sister is not about to go unnoticed and linger in her sister's shadow. She wants to be the next Queen of England and nothing will get in her way including her own flesh and blood.

Gregory shows readers with intimate detail life at court including adultery, incest and homosexuality. She pays close attention to historical accuracy and brings an otherwise dull period of history to life through plot and character development.

From history, readers already know the ending of the story. Mary retires from court, moves to the country and marries a commoner, while Henry orders Anne beheaded. As the old saying goes, "What goes around, comes around." Off with her head...So long Anne!

The Other Boleyn Girl is definitely on my top 10 list. Don't miss this opportunity to learn about English history and enjoy a good story.