ISBN-13: 9781416556534
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Published: September 2007

Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king

A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her familys ambitious plots as the kings interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands.
In last week's Weekly Geeks #12, we are asked to list some books we have not reviewed and allow other readers to ask us any questions on them. Thus, in this post, I will do a mini Q&A on my thoughts of this book.

Heather asked:

  • What did you know about Mary Boleyn prior to reading this book? Frankly speaking, I know litte about Mary Boleyn or anything related to the history. I am not a huge historical fan, but I am intrigued with the book because I have read a lot of good reviews about it (and not to mention the hype surrounding the movie when it was first released). Plus, I would like to learn more about the Tudor history and the time period. I figure it is never too late to read it and so, here I am.

  • How does this compare to other historical fiction you've read? As I mentioned earlier, I am not a historical fan, thus I do not read a lot of historical fiction. There was a time where I think historical romance is popular in the romance genre... However, I do read them but rarely nowadays. Nonetheless, this book is not like those historical fiction I read. It consists of much more besides love; issues like royal court political, ambition, rivalry, loyalty, treachery, etc. It is both an emotional and an entertaining read.

  • Would you read more by this author? Yes, I will. Philippa Gregory really brings the characters to life in this book, and this has sparked my interest to read her other books in future.

  • Would you read more about this topic/time in history? Definitely. I find them interesting. It is always great to learn something from another time period.
Suey asked:
  • Did The Other Boleyn Girl make you think of this story any differently? At first glance of the title and the cover, I know this will be a story about two sisters vying for the attention of a man. I think the question one often asked is: who is the other boleyn girl?

  • Did you sympathize with any of the characters more than what you expected? I sympathize Mary Bolyen more than anyone. She was always living in the shadow of Anne and her family. Then again, I would say Queen Katherine is another sympathetic character too. She hoped to give a son to the King but she couldn't. King Henry was very unhappy with her due to this; and he thought it was a punishment as a result for marrying his late brother's wife. As for Anne, she is not a likeable character. I would have sympathize for her if she is not so ambitious, calculative and self-centered. After all, like Mary, she was used as a pawn to get close to King Henry.

  • And the big one: Who really IS the other Boleyn girl? Ann or Mary? I would say Mary. Though Anne seemed to have claimed everything initially, but towards the end Mary took her fate into her own hands, didn't she?
  • I would like to know if you plan to read Phillipa Gregory's next historical novel about Mary Queen Of Scots? Yes, I might but not so soon. I always try to read something different after reading a book. Reading the same genre in a row can be a bore to me.

  • Do you believe the author presented a good factual account of King Henry and the Boleyn family? I am not familiar with the history of King Henry, but I am sure the author must have done her share of research when writing this book. I read from her website that she had obtained a BA degree in history at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature.

Dewey asked:

  • Who did you find the most loathsome character in The Other Boleyn Girl? Anne Boleyn. Although it is not her idea to be used as a pawn to be near to King Henry, but I find her selfish, manipulative and cold-hearted in such way that she would do anything to gain her wishes. There was this scene about her taking away Mary's son as if he was an item that could be bought anytime just infuriates me.

Nymeth asked:

  • What's your favourite thing about it so far? The history, and not to mention the premise of this story. I also liked the scene where the relationship between William Stafford and Mary blossomed. I find it a refreshing read after reading so much about Anne's and the Boleyn family's scheming plans; and the little time Mary spent with her children at Hever was an enjoyable read too. I could feel her love for her children and how she craved for a simple life through this passage: "...The beauty of him as a boy meant that I had lost my baby and I thought of how it would be to have a baby that was not another pawn in the great game of the throne, but wanted for itself alone. How it would be to have a baby with a man who loved me and who looked forward to the child we might have together."

Jackie asked:

  • I started reading The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory, but couldn't really get into it. Is The Other Boleyn Girl better? This will be a new author for me and one that has been recommended by a lot of people, would this be a good novel to introduce someone to Philippa Gregory's style of writing and storytelling or is there another one out there that would work better? I have not read The Queen's Fool so I cannot compare the two books. However, I would highly recommend The Other Boleyn Girl to anyone because of the engaging characters, the premise and the drama. It is a page-turner, and you won't think this is a thick book of 700+ pages.

  • How did the movie compare to the novel? I have not watched the movie yet, but I intend to look out for the DVD after reading it!

Bybee asked:

  • Which characters are portrayed sympathetically? Mary Boleyn and Queen Katherine. (Refer to my reply on Suey's question)

  • Do you get a point-of-view with just Mary, or with Anne and other characters as well? I got a little bit of an ick feeling after seeing the movie, because I hated the way the girls were basically whored out to Henry VIII. Natalie Portman was impressive as Anne, though -- just as I always pictured her. Also, I am curious about the book and wonder, like Jackie, how it compares to the movie. Each character has his/her own point of view and everyone think they are doing the right thing: Mary thinks she did it for her family, while Anne did it for herself. King Henry wants a son as a heir to his throne since Queen Katherine could not borne him a son, thus he turned to other women and that is where the Boleyn girls stepped in. Queen Katherine wanted to bear King Henry's son, but it was not her fault that she could not, etc. You know, I did not like the way the Boleyn girls are portrayed lowly either, but I suppose this is the only thing they could do, as beauty and charms are considered a woman's greatest weapon since the old days.

Alessandra asked:

  • Which was your favourite character in The Other Boleyn Girl? Mary Boleyn. I liked it that she finally stood up on her own and took things into her own hands. I am glad Mary is the narrator of this story.

I would like to thank everyone for your wonderful questions. It has been fun answering them.

(Click here to learn more about Philippa Gregory and her books.)

Other Bloggers' reviews:
Book Nut
Care's Online Book Club
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
So Many Books, So Little Time
Things Mean A Lot
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
The Written Word
Trish's Reading Nook

9 Responses
  1. Thanks for your answers! I'll be interested to see what you think of the movie ... :)

  2. Iliana Says:

    This was so fun to read Melody. It brought back a lot of the book for me. I agree, this was definitely a page turner. That was a bit surprising for me because I kept thinking, I know how this ends so why am I rushing to the end of the book! ha,ha.. I think Gregory did a great job. I have a couple of her other books and look forward to those.

  3. Unknown Says:

    The Queen's Fool is not as good as this by a long way. I do like her other Boleyn focused books though. I hope you enjoy the movie. I saw it and liked it, but it was not a patch on the book!

  4. trish Says:

    This is probably her best book by a long shot. I hope you enjoy some of her other books. I liked The Constant Princess, but there wasn't nearly as much drama and intrigue, but it gave a nice insight into Queen Katherine.

  5. This is such a great way to review a book! I am glad Dewey came up with the idea for the Weekly Geeks. I enjoyed reading your answers very much, Melody. I remember reading this book but I had forgotten I had reviewed it on my blog--it feels like forever ago. I had to click on your link to my review just to see if I did review it. Haha

    I still haven't read anything else by this author, but I want to. I liked The Other Boleyn Girl, but wasn't overly impressed with it. I think that may be why I haven't rushed on to another.

  6. Alice Says:

    Enjoyed reading your answers, Melody! Have a good weekend. =)

  7. Ana S. Says:

    You got some great questions and I really enjoyed reading your answers. I'm very much looking forward to reading this one!

  8. Julia Says:

    Enjoyed reading your answer Melody! Very interesting facts too :) I didn't realized there is movie for this never mention it to me...

    Hope you have a good weekend!

  9. Melody Says:

    Heather - You're welcome. :) I'm hoping to watch the movie version soon!

    Iliana - Thanks! It's a great book IMO. I'm hoping the movie will be as good. ;P

    Rhinoa - I'm looking forward to reading her other books. I'm glad you enjoyed the movie. :)

    Trish - Maybe I'm going to read that book next! Thanks. I'd like to learn more about Queen Katherine. ;)

    Wendy - I'm glad Dewey came up with this idea. It's another great way of reviewing a book, isn't it? I enjoyed reading your review too.

    Alice - Thanks. I hope you'd a great weekend too. :)

    Nymeth - Thank you. I can't wait to hear your thoughts if you've read this. :)

    Julia - Thanks. I guess I rambled too much on the book than the movie, haha. ;P

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