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The Other Boleyn Girl [Hardcover]

Philippa Gregory
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Nov 2001

Fabulous historical novel set in the court of King Henry VIII. Mary Boleyn attracts the attention of the young king and becomes his mistress; when he tires of her, she sets out to school her sister, Anne, as a replacement.

Politics and passion are inextricably bound together in this compelling drama. The Boleyn family is keen to rise through the ranks of society, and what better way to attract the attention of the most powerful in the land than to place their most beautiful young woman at court? But Mary becomes the king’s mistress at a time of change. He needs his personal pleasures, but he also needs an heir.

The unthinkable happens and the course of English history is irrevocably changed. For the women at the heart of the storm, they have only one weapon; and when it’s no longer enough to be the mistress, Mary must groom her younger sister in the ways of the king. What happens next is common knowedge – but here it is told in a way we’ve never heard it before, with all of Philippa Gregory’s characteristic perceptiveness, backed by meticulous research and superb storytelling skills.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 532 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition - Second Print Run edition (5 Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002259842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002259842
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 489,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.

Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Everyone knows the fate of Anne Boleyn, but not many know the story of her rise to majesty and the part played by her rival and sister, Mary, who was Henry's mistress and mother to two of his bastard children before the dazzling older Boleyn girl even caught his eye. Philippa Gregory, whose own role as the Queen of historical romance grows more secure with each new novel, has surpassed her self with this epic tale of lust, jealousy and betrayal. The Other Boleyn Girl charts the lives of both Boleyns--each in their turn "the other Boleyn Girl"--and their fiercely ambitious, conniving family who used the girls as pawns to advance their own positions at the court of Henry VIII. At 13, Mary is little more than a child when she is presented to Henry, ordered by her scheming family to serve her King and country by opening her legs whenever commanded, or doing anything else the great monarch desires. And while his loins are satisfied, life at court is sweet for the unofficial Queen and her pushy coterie. Inevitably though, the King's eyes soon begin to wander and Mary is overlooked, helpless to do anything but aid her family's plot to advance their fortunes, replace her with Anne and give Henry the greatest gift of all: a son and heir.

So good a job has Ms Gregory done at portraying the Boleyns and Howards as selfish, scheming, treacherous manipulators however, that it becomes increasingly hard to feel empathy for any of them. While Mary is merely hapless, Anne is the most ruthless of them all, so that instead of feeling cheated by knowing the outcome of her story, it only serves to help digest her unpalatable rise. Such a gruesome destiny was never more deserved. Ms Gregory has worked hard at researching her historical references. Daily life at court is described in fascinating detail--from the relentless leisure pursuits, masques and banquets laid on for the easily bored King to the complex hierarchies and machinations of the courtiers. However, the fall of Queen Katherine of Aragon and her only child, the Princess Mary, and the politics of the competing European courts and the break with Rome are seen only as a backdrop to the bawdy goings-on of the Boleyns and their fateful race for the crown. --Carey Green


Praise for Philppa Gregory:

‘Gregory's research is impeccable which makes her imaginative fiction all the more convincing.’ Daily Mail

‘Gregory is great at conjuring a Tudor film-set of gorgeous gowns and golden-lattered dining. She invokes some swoonsome images…while the politics are personal enough to remain pertinent.’ DailyTelegraph

‘Subtle and exciting.’ Daily Express

‘Written from instinct, not out of calculation, and it shows.’
Peter Ackroyd, The Times

‘For sheer pace and percussive drama it will take a lot of beating.’ Sunday Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not a book to be taken literally. 30 July 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and re-read it often. The characters are interesting, the story is well-paced and well-told, and Phillipa Gregory invokes the sights and sounds of the Tudor court very well. In Mary Boleyn, the book's narrator, she creates a character that the reader cares about, and surrounds her with even more entertaining historical figures - if there is one drawback to this book, it is that Mary is eclipsed by her 'supporting cast'.

However, as good as this book is, it is not one to be believed. Gregory's facts are deeply in question - it is well known that Mary was the older Boleyn sister, not the younger, and her reptutation is at odds with the naive country girl that Gregory presents us with. It is highly unlikely that her children were fathered by the king (he'd never hesitated to bestow myriad titles on his other illigitemate son, after all, and yet Henry Carey, Mary Boleyn's son, went ignored), and the depiction of Anne Boleyn is unnecessarily negative. The pity we are presumably supposed to feel for Anne at the end of the book feels a little forced after Gregory has chronicled the cruelty, selfishness and incest of the character, but nevertheless Anne is fascinating to read about, and once again Gregory's gift for writing good characters is shown spectacularly.

If you read this book as a novel, a story, and ignore the historical innacuracies, then you will almost certainly enjoy it. The relationship between the three Boleyn siblings is interesting, and Gregory is very skilled at showing us the court - so much so, in fact, that the book dims a little when Mary is away from London. Katherine of Aragon is excellently portrayed, and the machinations of the Duke of Norfolk, the head of the Howard family, are intriguing. Mary's love affair with William is touching - all the more so because it is the one thing we can be sure is true.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't look for facts here! 9 July 2013
By Pepper TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had put off reading this novel for a while due to being less than satisfied with the (truly dreadful) hollywood film. However after reading the 'cousins war' series due to the BBC adaptation I thought I would give give Gregory's other novels a go.

Historical novels are tricky, and often criticized for diverting away from the facts. I have been in the camp that agrees that there can be a certain degree of poetic license, it is historical FICTION afterall, and we want a good story. Where is the harm in altering a few things to make the plot come together? As long as the reader is aware that Gregory's novels are not the concrete truth, of course.

However despite this, I think there should be some things that are kept factual when you are using real historical figures. Gregory presents Mary Boleyn as the youngest of the Boleyns, although many historians believe she was actually the oldest. I don't see why it was necessary to change this, as well as portaying her as a 14 year old when she was Henry VIIIs mistress with him at least 20 years older than her. In reality, Henry VIII was only about 8 years older than Mary. Also while there is some suspicion, it is not known whether Mary's children were fathered by the king or not. Likely we will never know.
If Gregory wanted to change it this much, maybe she should have used different names and made a complete fictional novel instead.

The story is based on (I say based for reasons I just mentioned) on Mary Boleyn, and firstly her position as Henry VIII's mistress, and then her status as 'the other Boleyn girl', as her sister Anne takes her place in the kings affections and eventually becoming queen (and we all know how THAT ended).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad History 2 Jun 2013
This is the worst book about Anne Boleyn I've read. Truly awful, inaccurate and badly written. Ms Gregory describes herself as an historian and a feminist yet there is no evidence that she is either in this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite awful. 12 Sep 2013
After recently discovering and enjoying the wonderful TV series starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, I found myself on a bit of a Tudor wave so, looking for good books, I've read "Wolf Hall", which was beyond amazing and "The Other Boleyn Girl", which was... well... for lack of new words that would have to be invented to describe this "novel", I'll have to settle for s-star-star-te.

The book is supposed to be about the life and times of Mary Boleyn, the (younger? why not! poetic license and all that) sister of the more famous Anne, and is written in her POV.

I could not even finish it, dragging myself through half the pages, until conceding defeat, for even someone only fleetingly familiar with the period, like myself, found some of the goings-on so outrageously invented that I almost wanted to cry out 'no way could this happen!'.

The only redeeming value of this piece of.... literature is the easy writing and the sometimes witty and clever lines.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by the magnificent historical novels, with real historical characters at the center, I have read previously, like "Masters of Rome" series or the Cicero Trilogy or "Wolf Hall", but I also have read enough Dumas to recognize when the power of imagination is going just far enough and when it is preposterous.
Or perhaps it's just the author's ambition and pretension that got in the way - had she but categorized her book as 'a romance novel taking place in the Renaissance period' or 'a book like those nauseating ones with men dressed like pirates on the cover' or anything else really, but not a 'historical novel'. I personally would not have been tempted to read it then.

To sum up, this is nothing more than a glorified self-insert RPF (Real Person Fanfiction) and I would not recommend it to anyone over 15 years old.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars "THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL" review.
My Views on "The Other Boleyn Girl" are:

Chosen because I like the way the "historical content" is wrapped into a novel. Read more
Published 2 days ago by John Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Other Boleyn girl
A good read and well written,I will be continuing working through philippa gregory other books of this series and the cousins war.
Published 7 days ago by Ms. C. Hindmarch
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A fantastic read, really interesting. The Author has really put their heart and soul into writing this book. Would recommend it 100%
Published 17 days ago by Bernadette Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Life during Tudor times
the book creates a good insight into life for women in tudor times.Women did not have any rights in their lives.
Published 17 days ago by elizabeth terras
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Boleyn Girl
Philippa Gregory is a talented and wonderful author of historical times. I find the history content of her books very interesting and of course the romances in her books.
Published 25 days ago by Mrs. Isabelle M. Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a history book
I loved this book it made me understand history much better than any history lesson , I didn't like history in school but this made me want to learn more
Published 1 month ago by jenko
5.0 out of 5 stars breath taking.
This was my first of Philippas books, and I have been a massive fan ever since. I love how she writes, you really feel invested in the lead character, up to the point you pick up... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emma
5.0 out of 5 stars Take with pinch of salt
There's some historical jiggery pokery here, but the story will hold you and is a great read. I must be on my 20th reading now and I still love it!
Published 1 month ago by MISS J
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading.
Brilliant reading, couldn't put it down until it was finished. Really great reading. Ready for the next book, on Henry V111 wives.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Diane Burgess Rendell
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Christmas prent.
This was another Christmas present for my grand daughter. It was also very well received by her. Quite well written too.
Published 1 month ago by Kenneth Smith
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