Friends have been after me to read The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory for years. As part of the Book-A-Month challenge I decided to take the opportunity to read this one. First let me say, while I’m very interested in history and know the basics of the War of the Roses and the Tudor line of England I never paid much attention to the individual wives and people associated with Henry the Eighth. Because of that all I really knew was Anne Boleyn married King Henry after he set aside Katherine of Aragon. I knew Henry created the Church of England because the Pope wouldn’t allow Henry to divorce Katherine. That’s all I knew. I never had a clue about Anne’s family. As such this book has been an eye opener as all good historical fiction should be.
The Other Boleyn Girl tells the tale of the court of Henry the Eighth and the rise of Anne Boleyn to Queen through the eyes of Mary, Anne’s younger sister. The sibling rivalry, intense family loyalty, and ambition are palpable through every interaction between the sisters. It is a fascinating look at life in the Tudor court and the life of a young woman growing from idealistic, naïve girl into a calculating, yet still loving woman who is almost too good to be true. Ms. Gregory does an excellent job of showing Mary’s faults, as well as her good points. She also makes Anne out to be the most manipulative and ambitious woman ever to walk the earth, and the Howard & Boleyn families to be incredibly cut throat in all dealings. While this isn’t the current Academic belief about Anne it makes an excellent story with Anne and Mary as foils for one and other.
The court intrigue and politics are fascinating, the dialogue easy to follow, all in all a thoroughly good book and an author I’ll be reading more from in the future.