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Group Reads > January 2019 - The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory

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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1928 comments Our January Group Read is Philippa Gregory's historical novel The Other Boleyn Girl. This was a massive best-seller and should be available widely in libraries and bookstores, and in most formats.

This is the story of Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary.


message 2: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Brown (beautygoodbook) | 17 comments This is the book that started my love affair with historical fiction. Absolutely one of my desert island books


message 3: by Silvia (new)

Silvia | 70 comments Definitely worth reading! I loved it.


message 4: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I loved this when I read it. Planning on rereading it to see if it elicits the same feelings.


message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (lizziekitteh) | 9 comments This is the worst novel about the Anne and Mary Boleyn that I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.

Annes portrayal in this book is very historically inaccurate that it’s slanderous to me. She never slept with her brother, and she didn’t have his stillborn baby!!!! That’s ridiculous!!!!! Being surrounded by her ladies and the rest of he Court dont you’d think they’d have picked up on that if it were true?? The author portrays it as fact and it’s quite honestly and insult to Anne Boleyn memory. There’s no SHRED of proof Anne was ever unfaithful to the king, let alone with her own brother.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1928 comments As a novel I'm fine with it. The history in it, however, tends to range from "wrong" to "historians are pretty sure that's wrong" to "it didn't happen that way."


message 7: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 21 comments I understand that this is a novel. And for me, like someone stated above, it was my first Tudor read that ignited my love affair with all things Tudor. I have since researched and read some magnificent books about the Tudor period. I love the discussion though!


message 8: by Hillary (new)

Hillary (vixxiearl) | 3 comments i have not read the book yet . but i will getting the book to read for next month .


message 9: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 0 comments I plan to read The Other Boleyn Girl with the group in January. Looking forward to the discussion.


message 10: by Mindy (new)

Mindy | 40 comments I loved this book!

(HATED THE MOVIE!!!!!!!)

Okay, maybe the history is screwed up, but it's a terrific read!


message 11: by Connie (new)

Connie (clkea) | 3 comments I haven't read the book yet, but have it. I'm waiting for the group read. I can't wait to start it. I'm such a fan of anything Tudor!


message 12: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 36 comments I struggle with this author. I really want to like her writing, but there's just something about it that turns me away.


message 13: by Shanequa (new)

Shanequa (cameoutbesotted) | 15 comments Excited for the discussion! This was also my first introduction to Anne Boleyn. I understand the criticism of the book and Philippa Gregory but this one will always have a special place in my heart cause honestly without this book I'm not sure I would have gone on to learn more about Anne or the rest of the Tudors.

It's been a couple years since I've read this so I'll be re-reading it in January!


message 14: by Kris (new)

Kris Nelson | 2 comments Connie wrote: "I haven't read the book yet, but have it. I'm waiting for the group read. I can't wait to start it. I'm such a fan of anything Tudor!"

Oh please stick with her. She has so many titles, I think you will find you like one (or more).


message 15: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments I own the book, but haven't read it yet and hope I'll be able to participate (there are several books on top priority this January for me)!
I'm really curious if I'll like it or not. I really liked the The White Queen tv show, but have only ever read The White Princess by her and loathed it (that the tv show turned out to be halfway decent-ish was quite a surprise). I'm not a fan of her pretending that she always writes ~true history aka I don't actually mind historical inaccuracies in my fiction books as long as I'm entertained, BUT only if the author owns it.


message 16: by Michell (new)

Michell Karnes (royalreader) | 229 comments I whole heartedly agree!!


message 17: by Martha (new)

Martha I'm a couple of chapters in and I'm enjoying it more than I expected. As some people have already said, my objection to Gregory is her insistence that she writes historically accurate fiction when many of her claims are highly dubious. I had only listened to audiobooks by her before, and didn't like the exaggerate tone of the narrative voice.

I therefore approached this read with some trepidation, but so far I find Mary Boleyn endearing and the narrative engaging. While I don't believe it is factually accurate, I appreciate that it is Mary being put to the front of the story as it provides a different perspective of the often told story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII.


A Tale of One Reader | 2 comments I just place a book outlet order with this book in it last month, and I am so excited to be able to read it in with other people this month :)


message 19: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments I finished my last read today, so I can start this one tomorrow! Going into it with an open mind and the knowledge that it can't be possibly worse than The White Princess.


message 20: by Shanequa (new)

Shanequa (cameoutbesotted) | 15 comments About half way through and remembering why I loved this book growing up and read it every year. While it definitely can't boast for be historically accurate I think it is such a fun read. I'm really enjoying re-reading it.

(view spoiler)


message 21: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments Still at the beginning but I think the thing that weirds me out the most is this rivalry with the Seymour family stuff. Maybe cause it reads super soap opera-ish?

(Also, she really can't drop her dislike for Henry VII for a minute, hm?)


message 22: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 0 comments I’m about 20% done. The plot is very slow moving, but I hope it picks up soon.

There are some interesting parts like the budding sibling rivalry between Mary and Anne, so I’m interested enough to hang in there. It’s going to take me a while to get through it.


message 23: by Shanequa (new)

Shanequa (cameoutbesotted) | 15 comments Just finished it and still enjoyed it just as much as I did when I read this growing up. I really love Mary in this and love that this story is told from her point of view.

I definitely had a big issue with the way Anne and George's relationship was portrayed. That was uncomfortable and I'm not sure why teenage me never had a problem with it. And as a big Anne Boleyn fan this isn't the most favorable portrayal of her and that does bug me a little bit but it is still a joy reading any book with her in it because she really is truly fascinating.

Overall had a real fun time re-reading this!


message 24: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments I'm still at the beginning, but so far Anne is fine to me (Sure, not the nicest person ever, but I don't need her to be. I just need her to be human), so I'm looking forward to how that might change!

I am however rolling my eyes every time ~The Boleyns are mentioned. Like Mary, Anne and George are some sort of highschool clique, It's a bit silly.


message 25: by Vanessa (last edited Jan 12, 2019 01:18PM) (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments Almost halfway through now and the story has finally taken up steam.

George is my favorite... who knew? (Also already the third portrayal of him maybe not being all that straight I've seen?)

So far I don't really hate the portrayal of Anne (no one really smells like roses in this, except maybe Catherine), but even I, a more casual fan, can tell that the actual history is all out of whack (which I wouldn't mind as mentioned before, if Gregory wasn't all about how accurate she is).

EDIT: Okay, I've finished the book, but I don't want to spam this thread... so I guess I'll wait till someone else wants to say something. ^^;


message 26: by Martha (new)

Martha I've just finished the book, and while it hasn't converted me to a Philippa Gregory's work I liked the ending, after not really enjoying the middle describing Anne's reign as queen and Catherine's removal as queen. I felt that it dragged on (as it probably did at the time so it is fair).

I didn't like how Anne and George's relationship was portrayed either. I feel that from the historical evidence it is quite clear the charges were trumped up, and the fact that Gregory hints at it throughout irritates me. As all gossip is, it is often more interesting than the truth and she has fallen for it. I'd rather have seen them fight this or challenge it. While it was an ok read (I gave it 3 stars) I don't think I would want to read it again


message 27: by Vanessa (last edited Jan 14, 2019 05:17PM) (new)

Vanessa | 6 comments While I didn't like the incest either (I was really taken aback, because while I was aware that it would be a thing, I didn't think it would happen quite so blatantly), but in a really weird way I can't super fault Gregory for going with it, because books/movies/tv-shows/freaking games keep doing the same thing to Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia (while ignoring that the slander also included her father, but I guess that's just not ~sexy) and almost no one raises an eyebrow (and most people even ship them). So something 'different' doesn't necessarily mean something bad... buuuuut then there is the whole Gregory thing about being historically accurate and then it gets muddy. :/
I've read books, where the author in the endnotes says that they knowingly changed something or speculated a bit, because they thought it would make the story more interesting and while I didn't always agree, I can respect that in fiction books.
(Doesn't mean I didn't cringe at all the scenes, though.)

Overall I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I thought Anne was portrayed okay in the beginning, but got worse over time and I wish Gregory had toned her viciousness and selfishness down (a lot at times). I think then she'd have been a rounder character. The reader was clearly supposed to dislike, but admire her (unlike for example Henry VII in The White Princess, whom we were blatantly supposed to hate) and I feel she only succeeded half the time.
I did really like her showing Anne being so exhausted, working hard and using not only her body but also her brain to enchant the king. I also liked that she was never in love with him for some reason and would still fly into a rage about Henry Percy after years. I don't even know why.

Mary was somehow a harder character to get a grasp on. She was probably intended to speak to and be loved by a modern audience and obviously especially to women (with children), but Gregory also had to explain why this perfect English Rose wasn't able to hold the king and yeah... I didn't dislike her or anything and did feel for her throughout the story, but she's also the only Boleyn character who didn't make me *think* if that makes sense?

Which brings me to George, someone I usually never had deep feelings about before but I loved him in this? He was charming, witty, caring and... terribly sad?
This is also the third time he wasn't quite straight in a fictional story so far (this, The Tudors and it's never confirmed, but Anne is wondering about him and Mark Sweaton in Alison Weir's book from her POV), which is kind of weird, since as far as I know, it has no basis in reality (I might have to check that book outthat gave Gregory the idea, even tho most reviews I've seen weren't favorable).
It was still a change I didn't mind and would have gladly seen more of his relationship with Francis.

Speaking of Mark Smeaton: Gregory kind of forgot about him till the end, no? (Still managed to make me feel really sorry for him, especially since she apparently aged him down?)

Which also brings me to another thing (that also bothered my in Alison Weir's book about Anne): There were people Anne and Mary should have definitely met and spent some more time with certain characters. Or at least mention them some more. It's really kind of weird when the execution of Thomas More is a big event when he was such a non-entity in the story before (especially to people who casual readers, who picked this up on a whim)
Charles Brandon also only got one scene and then vanished to be mentioned twice more or something.
Was Cromwell even in this despite one mention? Cranmer?
(I guess one could say that Mary never met them but she was put into lots of situations she shouldn't have witnessed...)

Random thoughts:

- Gregory really hates Jane Parker, hm? No shades of grey there. Just black.
- I'd actually be interested in a Gregory book about Jane Seymour tbh.
- I just hate the word 'cunny' so much.
- 'Adoption' really... didn't work that way back then. That was super weird.
- Wtf was that with the Seymour rivalry right from the beginning?

Anyways, I have no idea how to rate this, cause while I rolled my eyes quite a lot, I was also entertained. I'd probably give it 3.5 stars if Goodreads would allow me such.


message 28: by Alison (new)

Alison | 4 comments This book holds a special place in my heart for me.

When I was a a little girl I used to devour book, reading one book after another, going through many books in a month and then in my teenage years somehow this waned unfortunately until I was not reading anymore.

Then, I heard the movie 'The Other Boleyn Girl' was coming out, found out it was a bestselling novel and ended up buying it, reading it within a week - that was the moment when my love of books (and historical fiction) was rekindled and I have not looked back since :)

Lovely book - would love to revisit it again!


message 29: by Mindy (new)

Mindy | 40 comments I know that this book has often been under attack for not being "historically accurate," but at the same time, if you're a Tudor-phile, you have to give it to Ms. Gregory for re-igniting the fuse, especially to the general public.

Mary is still pretty much a mysterious figure--even following Allison Weir's biography, in which Ms. Weir, in her introduction and "Author's Note", admits that following her trail was difficult. There is another fiction book by Karen Harper, I believe, about Mary, which is also great, but I believe that Harper's book and THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL are the only ones that attempt to fill in her story.

As to the father of Mary's children and her grandchildren and other descendants--the only way to be sure would be to use DNA on their remains, which there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in doing so by the historical societies or living descendants. But I will throw out just a tiny speculation, just for the hell of it:

I believe that the Spencers (yes, I mean Diana and her brother and sister) are descended from Mary, yes? And her brother Charles could certainly pass for a Tudor in his looks (as could Prince Harry, for that matter.) Wouldn't it be interesting if Charles and/or Harry was a living doppleganger of Henry VIII as he really looked?

More fun: Maybe Diana's beauty comes from that bit of DNA that also descends from Elizabeth of York? From all accounts of Henry VII's wife, and pictures of her, there is a similarity, isn't there?

As I said, just being fun here, fictionally extrapolating.

Which is what Ms. Gregory does in THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL.


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