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Paperback The Other Boleyn Girl Book

ISBN: 0743227441

ISBN13: 9780743227445

The Other Boleyn Girl

(Part of the The Tudor Court (#3) Series and The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels (#9) Series)

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Book Overview

The #1 New York Times bestseller from "the queen of royal fiction" ( USA TODAY ) Philippa Gregory is a rich, compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue surrounding the Tudor court of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the infamous Boleyn family. When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her...

Customer Reviews

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A FAMILY AFFAIR...

This well-known author of historical fiction has outdone herself with this rich and absorbing tale of the notorious Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary. The Tudor court, with all its pomp and intrigue, is seen through the eyes of the beautiful Mary Boleyn, who at the age of fourteen arrives at court and becomes lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon, Queen of England and wife to King Henry VIII. Although already married to courtier William Carey, Mary captures the heart of King Henry VIII, whose roving eyes land on this innocent young miss. In the eyes of the grasping and greedy Boleyn family, Mary is but the fatted calf through whom their ambitions, they believe, will become realized. So, they offer her up as a sacrifice to their ruthless ambition. Forced to separate from her husband in order to become the King's mistress, Mary betrays the Queen and becomes mistress to the King, all at the behest of her family. Every step of her affair is choreographed from the wings by her family, with the adept aid of her sly and clever sister, Anne, in the role of chief manipulator. Mary struggles with her own code of honor and personal morality, which is often in conflict with what is mandated by her family. Still, despite her best intentions, Mary disappoints them, as her nature is not the kind that takes well to intrigue and manipulation. She the temerity to have sincere feelings of affection for the King, as well as for the Queen. After bearing the King two children, however, she is set aside by a formidable rival, her own sister, Anne, in whom the Boleyn family now place their hopes and ambitions. This is, first and foremost, the story of Mary Boleyn, a woman who has generally been reduced to a footnote in history. It is notable, however, that she was the only Boleyn sibling to survive the purges of the Tudor court and who, ultimately, married for love in an age when this was not the norm among those of her class. It is also the story of Anne Boleyn, her rise and fall, as seen through the eyes of her sister, Mary, with whom Anne was to have a lifelong rivalry. To a lesser degree, it is also the story of their brother, George, a more remote, though no less interesting, personage. His interjection into the story is necessary, as the author attempts to address the issue of incest that arose at the trial of George and Anne Boleyn. She gives quite an interesting perspective on the issue, weaving it, part and parcel, into the story in an effort to explain his downfall, as well his betrayal by his own wife. Told against the magnificent backdrop of the Tudor Court in all its splendor and majesty, the author weaves a complex tale of greed, ambition, sex, and political machination, as well as unparalleled intrigue, in sixteenth century England. Filled with well-fleshed characters taken right out of the annals of history, the story is one that is sure to delight all those with a love for well-written historical fiction. In particular, fans of beloved auth

A quality read -- and solidly researched

I'm glad so many readers appreciate this book's terrific pacing and riveting narrative. Anne Boleyn's rise and fall is one of the great, intriguing stories of English history, and Philippa Gregory does it ample justice. An extra spin and spice is gained by viewing events through the eyes of Mary, Anne's sister and predecessor in sexual intrigue with Henry VIII. Gregory's portrayal of life in an ambitious, rapacious family is vivid and chilling. Mary Boleyn is ambivalent about the costs of her family's high ambition but absolutely vulnerable to its every demand. It says much about Gregory's persuasiveness as a storyteller that Mary remains a sympathetic figure even as she participates in schemes that run counter to her own conscience.Regarding the assertions that Gregory gets her historical facts wrong, it should be noted that recent scholarship does indeed place Anne as the elder sister and Mary the younger (the birth order used by Gregory). There is no contemporary record as to when either Boleyn girl was born. However, the family's decision to send Anne -- not Mary -- to be educated abroad at the court of Margaret, regent of the Netherlands, is cited by recent biographers as important evidence that Anne must have been the elder sister: "By contemporary custom, the younger child would not have been favored with such a splendid opportunity to the detriment of her older sister..." (Anne later spent additional time abroad at the court of France.)Mary Boleyn was the first sister married, something that would normally indicate she was the elder sister. But Anne was still abroad at the time, and her family may have been hoping for a more splendid match for her with a European nobleman. There is also evidence that the Boleyns were trying (ultimately without success) to betroth Anne to the heir of the earl of Ormond. Both circumstances would explain why they were willing to defer the marriage of an elder daughter and go ahead with an advantageous, though not as splendid, union for their younger girl. These observations come from Retha Warnicke's scholarly study of Anne's life, which Gregory cites as one of her major sources.Sorry if I made eyes glaze over with all this, but it really is unfair to assert that Gregory (whose books are in general distinguished by careful craftmanship) fouled up her facts or distorted them for the sake of a better story. She definitely makes artful conjectures -- impossible to avoid with subjects of whom very few hard facts are known. But her conjectures fall within a solid historical framework.If you enjoyed Gregory's fluid, page-turning touch in this book, take a look at some of her other historical fiction, such as her "Wideacre" trilogy.

Incredible Historical Fiction

The Other Boleyn Girl, is hands down the best piece of historical fiction I have ever read. Upon reading it, I have been searching for other books of its genre and subject matter to delve into.Gregory made these characters come alive for me, and made me understand how difficult it was to live as a woman in the early 1500s. Mary was especially well crafted. At 13 years old she went from her forced marriage to being thrown into the King's arms as his mistress. The inner struggles she fought between being true to herself and her heart, or true to her family were especially poignant.Anne Boleyn, the most famous and tragically terminated sister, is portrayed in such a venomous way. She would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, and to rise in power and prestige. In the end it killed her. But her character, as portrayed by Ms. Gregory, was compelling and convincingly ugly, despite her beauty.King Henry VIII also jumped off the pages. He came off as a spoiled brat, even as he grew older, who always got what he wanted. He and Anne were well matched for each other as no level of deceipt was too high. Ms. Gregory was brilliant in choosing Mary as the narrator of this book. In doing so, the manipulative and scheming nature of Anne was able to come alive, as was the unorthodox lifestyle chosen by George Boleyn, the brother. The relationship amongst the Boleyn siblings, in and of itself, could fill a novel. The complexities of a family struggling to maintain individual identities, while working to bring the family up to the highest level of stature is intense.This book is a page turner; it is incredibly compelling, deep and fascinating. I learned a great deal about the monarchy of Henry VII as well as life in the court during that time period. At the same time, I found myself incredibly entertained and saddened when I reached the last page. I cannot wait for more from Ms. Gregory.

a fascinating and enthralling read

I had more or less given up reading historical novels when I ran out of books by Jean Plaidy to read. For me, she was one of the truly rare authours (saving Sharon Kay Penman of course) who got the feel, tone and character of her subject matter right. So that I had more or less stopped looking out for new books in this genre to read. And then I saw "The Other Boleyn Girl" at my local bookstore, and after sampling the first chapter, I realized that I had to buy this book. And I'm awfully glad that I did. What a simply wonderful read!! Phillipa Gregory did a really splendid job of evoking the splendor and turbulence of Henry VIII's court. I also thought that her choice of narrator, Mary Boleyn (the elder of the Boleyn sisters) was an inspired as well. Most historians (and perhaps I've only read the those that espoused this majority view) tend to dismiss Mary as an empty headed good time girl because she was used and cast aside with very little ceremony; and because she never rose as high as her sister, Anne. But you have to wonder: Mary was also the only Boleyn sibling to survive the vicissitudes of Henry VIII's reign, and the fall of the Howard-Boleyn fortunes; she also managed to marry for love (and a happy and lasting marriage it proved to be too) the second time around. So perhaps there was a lot more to the 'other Boleyn girl' than everyone credits?Gregory's novel opens and closes with two executions -- it begins with the execution of the Duke of Buckingham in 1521, and ends with the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536. With this rather grim events framing her book, the novel proper starts in 1522, with Anne arrival at the Tudor court, where her elder sister, Mary, is already lady-in-waiting to Henry's wife, Queen Katherine. From the very beginning we see that while there is a bond that ties the Boleyn sisters together, there is also a deep rooted rivalry between them. It is a tense time at court: the queen (already quite a few years older than her husband) has yet to produce a male heir to the throne, and people are beginning to question if the aging queen will ever be able to bear children again. Some of Henry's advisers are even began to gently hint that he should put his Spanish wife aside and look for a younger more fecund wife. In the midst of all this intrigue, Mary soon catches the king's roving eye. Although she is married and still quite loyal to the queen, her family (her ruthless parents as well as her uncle, the powerful and equally ruthless Duke of Howard) decrees that she put her marriage and loyalties aside and cater to the whims of her king. Bedazzled, it doesn't take Mary very long to fall in love with both her golden king and her role as the his 'unofficial' wife. A few years and two royal by-blows later however, Mary is shunted aside when the king begins to loose interest in their relationship and her ambitious family fearful that they will loose all the power that they have gained, throws the more ruthless and seductive siste
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