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The Other Boleyn Girl [Paperback]

Philippa Gregory
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (400 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 May 2007

Fabulous historical by No.1 bestseller Philippa Gregory, the queen of Tudor novels.

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 knowledge – 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 542 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; New Ed edition (28 May 2007)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0006514006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006514008
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (400 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,727 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
45 of 49 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't look for facts here! 9 July 2013
By Pepper
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings 1 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you don't mind your history distorted you may like this, but I'd rather have less modern interpretation of people's feelings and actions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It was just okay... 14 May 2013
Ive been re-reading my Phillipa Gregory catalogue and think I might have overdone her a bit. This was okay - your bog standard escape for a few hours but not a patch on Sarah Dunant 'Birth of Venus' or similar historical fiction.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I really dislike this book! 14 May 2010
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved this book!!!
I literally couldn't put it down. The history makes it really interesting but the story with it grabs you too. Loved it!
Published 2 days ago by Kerry Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A pleasantly light read for anyone interested in the history of the period.
Published 9 days ago by ChaCha
5.0 out of 5 stars For historical novels one of the best I have
A most interesting read. For historical novels one of the best I have read
Published 12 days ago by Jack Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Very interesting book - The only things I knew about Henry VIII were the ones i remembered from school, and I found this book very factual , great story but not all boring. Read more
Published 17 days ago by tinamejulie
5.0 out of 5 stars Far superior to the film
A fantastic read, definitely far better than expected, and certainly well worth the money. I shall likely be purchasing more of this author's books
Published 24 days ago by Ben Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Boleyn Girl Audiobook
I purchased this Audiobook after seeing the film. Enjoyed it, as the book is always more in depth than a film adaptation. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Musical anorak
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book in years!
This book by phillipa gregory may not be the most historically accurate book you will ever find, but her choice to do it from the point of view of mary boleyn gives the read an... Read more
Published 25 days ago by megan stagles
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Kindergarten fare.
Published 25 days ago by s.r.coulam
4.0 out of 5 stars Boleyn magic .
Really enjoyed this book - a nice amount of social history included.
Riveting even though the ending is known.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. A. L. Kew
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
Really enjoy these series of books . This book transforms you back to the time of Henry's court , the corruption , the desperation of court to be the favourite . Read more
Published 1 month ago by woo
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