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The Other Boleyn Girl Hardcover – 5 Nov 2001

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (516 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 774,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Kenya in 1954, Philippa Gregory moved to England with her family and was educated in Bristol and at the National Council for the Training of Journalists course in Cardiff. She worked as a senior reporter on the Portsmouth News, and as a journalist and producer for BBC Radio.

Philippa obtained a BA degree in History at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature. Her first novel, Wideacre, was written as she completed her PhD and became an instant worldwide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer.

Wideacre was followed by a haunting sequel, The Favoured Child, and the delightful happy ending of the trilogy: Meridon. This novel was listed in Feminist Book Fortnight and for the Romantic Novel of the Year at the same time.

Her next book was The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation. Then came Fallen Skies, an evocative realistic story set after the First World War. Her novel A Respectable Trade took her back to the 18th century where her knowledge of the slave trade and her home town of Bristol explored the human cost of slavery. Gregory adapted her book for a highly acclaimed BBC television production which won the prize for drama from the Commission for Racial Equality and was shortlisted for a BAFTA for the screenplay.

Next came Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son both named John Tradescant working in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In these works Gregory pioneered the genre which has become her own: fictional biography, the true story of a real person brought to life with research and verve.

The jewel in the crown of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway bestseller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published globally, this classic historical novel won the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award 2002 and the Romantic Times fictional biography award. The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for the BBC as a single television drama and by Sony as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

After adding five more novels to her Tudor Court series including The Constant Princess and The Queen's Fool, two of her best-loved works, Philippa moved back in time to write about the family that preceded the Tudors, the Plantagenets. Her bestselling six-book Cousins' War series tells the story of the bloody struggle for the throne in the Wars of the Roses from the perspective of the women behind the scenes. The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter were adapted by the BBC and Starz in 2013 as the hugely popular TV miniseries The White Queen.

Having completed The Cousins' War series with The King's Curse, Philippa has come full circle back to the Tudor court. Her newest novel is about Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII: The Taming of the Queen. Her other work in progress is the young adult series The Order of Darkness, set in medieval Italy after the fall of Constantinople, feared at the time to be a sign of the end of the world.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster, a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team. As well as her extensive array of historical novels she has written modern novels, children's books, a collection of short stories, and a non-fiction book with David Baldwin and Michael Jones: The Women of the Cousins' War.

She lives in the North of England with her family and in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening (an interest born from research into the Tradescant family for her novel Virgin Earth) she also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia.

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

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra Coke on 30 July 2007
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By IP TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 July 2015
Format: Paperback
The perfect companion for all historical fiction enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

When Mary Boleyn, whose entire family are courtiers in the court of Henry VIII, catches the king's eye while in her mid-teens, her uncle sees an opportunity to advance the family fortunes. Thus far, the king has not produced a male heir for England via his wife Catherine. Having no choice in the matter, Mary acquiesces and becomes the king's lover, ultimately bearing him two children. However, while she is recovering from the birth of her second child, her family suddenly turns its focus to her sister Anne, upon whom the king's eye has newly fallen. Mary's fate is largely forgotten as all eyes are on Anne Boleyn. If she could convince the king to abandon his wife and marry her, how the family fortunes would rise!

I've enjoyed most of Philippa Gregory's works as her storytelling makes it difficult to put the books down. This is especially true of this book. Despite unproven and possibly fanciful conjectures by the author, the story is fascinating and great for an escapist experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carole Eva on 14 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Little wonder that this book was adapted into film - it has everything to keep the reader hooked - intrigue in every form: plots and counter plots, secret liaisons and powerful influences. Many stories featuring the court of Henry VIII have been told, but this one is different as it tells the story through Mary Boleyn's eyes. Philippa Gregory has dramatised history by adding her ideas of how it might, or could, have been; she did a convicing job and I was swept along with the tale. Henry was undoubtedly a sex addict and the sisters were, after all, not much more than children when they featured highly at Henry's court - no wonder Anne's character developed in the way it did. The elder Howards and Boleyns were quite awful and Anne was reputedly extremely intelligent so quickly followed the families' tradition of plotting and scheming. Mary, on the other hand, although not as clever, was the one who came out on top, finding real love and having the courage to follow it. A captivating story.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By LJM on 14 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I was really looking forward to this novel. I've always found the Anne Boleyn story fascinating - a prime example of the political and religious shenanigans of one of England's less loveable and more devious monarchs. What I found myself ploughing through was a turgid, unbelievable bodice ripper. What angered me - a lot! - was the turning of poor George Boleyn into a pantomime bisexual stereotype, based on no historical sources that I am aware of. This man will shag anything, including his sister. Anne herself is a sorceress, a born manipulater, seducing the surprisingly naive Henry away from the one who truly loves him, the incredibly saintly Mary. She, for some reason, becomes the younger sister, thus conveniently airbrushing out her own dubious past history. None of this makes sense, except that it seems that Gregory likes Henry and Mary but really has it in for Anne and George.

I can handle manipulating history, if it results in a good read, but this novel is not that. It stereotypes every character involved in a complex historical event. I know the argument is that 'this is a work of fiction that just happens to use historical figures'. Fair enough. But it's been done so much better. Robert Graves's 'I Claudius' is a gripping read; you don't have to agree with his vision of Livia or of Tiberius, but they are glorious, and Tactitus and Suetonius allow those readings to exist. Allan Massie also did something similar with 'Augustus', in which he posits a surprising but credible reason why Octavian wanted to crush Antony. Both manipulate historical sources but conjure up great reads.

I know I am in the vast minority in my opinion, but I am reluctant to give this story even 1 star. There is so much better period fiction out there.
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