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Words of a Bibliophile

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." —Bee Gees

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory

In this world of the Tudor court, women are little more than cattle to be traded for the purpose of getting a male heir to the throne and advancing certain noble families by means of producing such an heir. If this sounds crude, that's because it's exactly how it is in this novel. Vulgarity beneath royalty and extravagant wealth. The book has its thrilling moments especially near the end, but I found some of the characterization and plot to be less than convincing.


This in particular concerns Mary Boleyn's feelings for Henry VIII (she is described to have been initially enamored with Henry, but to me the change in her feelings isn't portrayed clearly until she openly says halfway through the book that she doesn't love him any more) as well as William Stafford's abrupt entrance into the story as Mary's new suitor (he immediately gives hints of courting her the minute he shows up).


Another thing that made me wonder is the portrayal of Anne Boleyn. There is something rather fascinating in her ambitious ruthlessness, but as someone who comes from a family of sisters, in my opinion her life must be so difficult if she can't be happy about her successes unless her sister is suffering at the same time. But the most interesting person for me is Mary and Anne's brother, George Boleyn, who is deep down a truly sincere character grappling with issues of his own. I had wondered whether the continuous hints about him having secret male lovers and being a little too intimate with his sisters, though innocently, would lead to something, and indeed his closeness with Anne results in what I think is the best plot twist in this novel.

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