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The Other Boleyn Girl Paperback – 18 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Film tie-in edition edition (18 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007262809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007262809
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (498 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,492 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 next novel will be 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

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

48 of 52 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 Terry Tyler, author on 16 Jun. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
It probably seems a bit daft to review a Phillipa Gregory book, because what the hell does someone like her need a review by little old me for, eh? Oh yes - reviews are for readers!

I've taken an enforced break from Kindle reading as I have a poorly Nexus tablet, so I thought I'd treat myself to an old favourite until it's mended ~ I've just finished reading this for the third time and was, once more, humbled by its splendour. It's the story of Mary Boleyn, the mistress of Henry VIII before he fell for the charms of her sister, Anne. Much of it is drawn from Ms Gregory's imagination following her research into the social rituals of the time and her extensive knowledge of the Tudors; episodes such as the courtship details between Mary and her second husband, William Stafford are largely fantasy, obviously, but it's written in with sufficient reference to historical fact for the reader to imagine it might have been true - which is, I think, the key to writing this sort of book. It's unputdownable, it really is.

In The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory has named Mary as being the younger of the Boleyn sisters, though since the book was written it has been proven that she was the elder. What interests me so much about this version of events is that Gregory portrays Anne as being only motivated by her ambition; we read that she was not in love with Henry at all, but wanted only the crown. I don't know how true this is; nobody does. I like to think that there was genuine passion between them, though. However, this version did not hamper my enjoyment at all. It's historical fiction ~ the author can do what she likes with it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By ereini0n on 12 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
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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