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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory tells of the rise and fall of the Boleyn girls: older sister Anne, who eventually schemes her way to the throne, and younger sister Mary, who is horribly used by her family and then practically cast aside. The story of the terrible competition and sibling rivalry between the two young women is told through the voice of Mary, the other Boleyn girl.

Anne, Mary, and their brother George, are brought to the court of Henry VIII at a very early age, to serve their monarchs and take part in the revelries. Mary, the kinder and gentler Boleyn girl, wins the favor of King Henry when she is barely 14 and already married to one of his courtiers. Within a few years, Mary gives birth to both an inconsequential daughter, and the son Henry has long awaited.

Despite being Henry's favorite, Mary's blissful love of King Henry is doomed. When her clever, scheming sister Anne arrives back at court to "help" Mary, she manages to ensnare Henry and replace Mary as his lover. Anne's gluttony for power knows no bounds, and she soon sets her eyes of the throne, conspiring with her devious relatives to rid Henry of his wife, Katherine of Aragon. Anne is ruthless in her drive to become Queen of England and ultimately is able to connive her way into the throne. Now that Henry has put aside one wife though, Anne must work doubly hard to give him a legitimate male heir, or risk being deposed herself.

This is the second Philippa Gregory book that I have read, the first being Wideacre, which I hated. The Other Boleyn Girl was a much better read, but I still wouldn't say that I loved it. The characters were such terrible human beings! I mostly wanted to throw the book across the room every time I finished a new chapter. Anne Boleyn was a selfish, covetous, wench! And where'd she learn such behavior? From her awful, grasping family! Ugh. Mary was by far, the most sympathetic character in the entire book, followed closely by Katherine of Aragon. Mary was everything her family was not: loving, compassionate, and warm - it's a wonder that she was born into such a callous, merciless family.

The rivalries and intrigues swirling through The Other Boleyn Girl make it a captivating read. Although the Boleyn/Howard struggle for power and influence is clearly central to the story, Gregory also portrays the trifling of the court and the various political and religious conflicts of the day capably and clearly. In The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory has managed to make what could easily be an extremely complicated set of characters and circumstances, into a rich and rewarding read.

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Quotes Susan Liked

Philippa Gregory
“You can smile when your heart is breaking because you're a woman.”
Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl


Reading Progress

01/06/2009 page 103
15.58% "Poor, poor Mary!"
01/15/2009 page 274
41.45% "Will there be any redeeming characters in this book? Stay tuned..."
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Hope you find there to be at least one! I read this a couple of years ago and saw the movie too. I found Mary to be a kind person but very spineless, poor thing. There are many like her in Sex with the Queen.


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