**spoiler alert** I normally don't write reviews, never did but somehow, I think I should start todo something to keep track of my readings. With the**spoiler alert** I normally don't write reviews, never did but somehow, I think I should start todo something to keep track of my readings. With the support of my two friends, Ana T. and Ana O., here's my first try... Beware, there’s some slight spoilers and a major one at the end.
The Other Boleyn Girl was, in fact, a reread. This book was part of my Read Along Challenge with Ana T. and Ana O. and I'm glad we included it in our list.
I still remembered getting really annoyed the first time with the historical liberties taken by Philippa Gregory and this second round I just wanted to enjoy the story while keeping in my mind it is (very!) loosely based on real facts and it's far from being an accurate historical portrayal. Like Ana O. says in her review, this is better to be read as an historical fantasy. Couldn't agree more!
I struggled during all the book to keep that thought, but sometimes it was useless. Many parts of this story was based in unproved theories and even Mary Boleyn's life is mostly a mystery. There's some tidbits here and there, but very little information, especially about her relationship with her sister or/and the King Henry VIII.
It's rather obvious that the author has a huge sympathy for Mary Boleyn and even, sometimes, a bit of a condescending attitude towards the young, pretty and naive girl who fell helplessly in love for her king. Now, Anne is an entirely different thing, she's described as a true villain! An intelligent and ambitious young woman who did everything she could to attract Henry's attention and become a Queen. Two sisters. The fair and the dark one. The generous and the ruthless. This omnipresent dichotomy was kind of annoying and took some of the characters complexity and richness.
Henry VIII gained here an image that I suppose he really never had. He might have been a charismatic king, even charming occasionally but never someone physically attractive or even sweet and gentle or an attentive husband. For some moments, I even had the feeling that everyone had their schemes and intrigues, except for him. He is clearly a victim, just like sweet Mary.
What really bothered me in this story, was the sensationalized end. The incest with the brother, the accusations of witchcraft and treason. Gregory gives reason to the king for murdering his wife when nothing, absolutely nothing proves she was guilty of all those crimes. Even knowing the flaws, the historical mistakes and trying to keep this as a light reading, I just couldn't stomach this one without some frustration.
Besides these aspects, I really must confess that Gregory's writing style make up for the other less pleasant parts. The 16th century settings are described vividly and the court life and intrigues really drags you easily into the story. She is a talented storyteller and this was a page turner.
After reading His Dark Materials (Golden Compass), I was curious about Philip Pullman’s other works. Sally Lockhart’s series seemed a good start to knAfter reading His Dark Materials (Golden Compass), I was curious about Philip Pullman’s other works. Sally Lockhart’s series seemed a good start to know this author a little better, so I decided to try Ruby in the Smoke.
This is the story of 16 year old orphan, Sally Lockhart. After her father sudden death, she receives a strange message and decided to unveiled the mystery, she starts an adventure who will change her life.
One of my problems with this book, is the main character - Sally. Sometimes, her decisions or attitudes are not usual for a young woman of the late 19th century and it really feels terribly fake to me. Also, she is too perfect and always seems to find effortlessly a solution for everything and everyone. No need to say how annoying it can be to read about flawless and stagnant characters. Another particularity, no matter how dangerous the situation is, she’s never really hurt or threatened. Unfortunately, her companions cannot say the same and they end up beaten or bloodied.
Talking about secondary characters, I barely noticed them as they don’t really stick out, so you easily forget who is who. I was expecting so much from the photographer, Frederick and what a disappointment it was to see he stays in the background just like the others. Even the villain, Mrs. Holland, is so flat ! There was so much potential here and we only get a rather silly old woman in quest of power. Even her ending is pathetic, making everything easy for Sally.
I never really had the feeling I was reading a story set in Victorian England, but maybe Pullman wanted to keep things simple, since this is a young adult book. Everything happens very quickly which is confusing and makes it hard to keep your attention in this story without being distracted by something else. I don’t think I’ll continue reading Sally Lockhart’s adventures. ...more