Sunday, November 4, 2007
The Other Boleyn Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Right after I finished it, I had this very un-courtly, modern reaction to this 16th century-set blockbuster: "Man, that was a crazy-good book!!" :-)
I'd enjoyed Gregory's The Queen's Fool earlier this year, enough to give the author another go when I saw this book on the challenge list. Boy, am I glad I did! It had all the scandals and sex of a soap opera but was well-written and very well-researched. I've always been quite interested in Elizabeth I and this was a fascinating look at her mother and her mother's family. I hadn't realized how long it took Anne Boleyn to actually get Henry VIII to marry her - I thought he divorced Katherine of Aragon very quickly, but Anne actually had to keep him interested without bedding him for 6 years, quite an amazing feat considering he was so selfish and fickle. And I had no idea that her younger sister had had him first! It was quite a portrait of a complex sisterly relationship - the Boleyn girls seem to have a had love/hate relationship where they alternately hated and really needed it each. I found it interesting but sad that they kept alternating between being "the other Boleyn girl" and that their family really didn't much care which of them was doing what, as long as the family was advancing. So it was also a very interesting look into court life and how high-born women were nothing but pawns in men's plans, even after if they were Queen of England. After reading this, I can see even more clearly how incredibly smart Elizabeth I was to avoid marriage and remain queen in her own right.
What I learned about Margo: We have very similar taste in books. She also has Flowers in the Attic, Chocolat, and The Undomestic Goddess on her list, all of which I enjoyed reading.
(Full review here.)