Sunday, 5 September 2010
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
I borrowed this book from my local library - I've started my new term teaching and I wanted something relatively light that would keep my attention and take my mind off my new class. Something to lose myself in. I love Tudor history and historical fiction in general, and whilst I have read 'The Other Queen' by the same author (and enjoyed it), I never gor around to reading this one.
Score: 4.5 out of 5.
Synopsis: Mary and Anne Boleyn have a sisterly rivalry that increases when Mary becomes the mistress of Henry VIII at the age of fourteen. Anne's ambition takes over as she becomes determined to do whatever it takes to marry the king and give birth to a son. As more and more time passes, Mary becomes sickened at the ambition of her family and is determined to not simply do as they say anymore.
Review: This book was actually more substantial than I was expecting. I found the characters to be well rounded, and all of the main characters had some good character development throughout the course of the novel. The novel covered a large span of time, but it didn't feel rushed or unbelieveable, as the characters matured as the book progressed.
What I liked most about the book was that the author left everything Anne had done very ambiguous, you could make your mind up as to how far she had gone in order to get what she wanted. There were no moral judgements either, and you could sympathise very much with Anne near the end of the book, even though she was horrible and quite unlikeable. There was no black and white, it was all shades of grey. I liked how the author managed to pull off writing from the perspective of Mary, but also giving us a deeper insight into Mary than she herself had - she wasn't as good as she thought she was.
Some of the minor characters were less well written - Mary's second husband was too perfect and understanding, with very modern viewpoints, and Uncle Howard only had one personality trait - evil. However, the pace and plot made up for this, and it was one of those books where time just flew as I was reading it. Recommeded.