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The Other Boleyn Girl [Hardcover]

Philippa Gregory
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (426 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Nov 2004 Boleyn

New official film tie-in edtion of this fabulous historical novel by Philippa Gregory, 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.

The Boleyn family is keen to rise through the ranks of society, and what better way 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 altered. 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 pleasing the king.

Now this bestselling novel is brought to life as a major film, starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman as the Boleyn sisters and Eric Bana as Henry VIII. The cast also features Kristin Scott Thomas and Mark Rylance. Directed by highly acclaimed Justin Chadwick (BAFTA and Emmy nominated for ‘Bleak House’) with screenplay by Peter Morgan (Oscar nominated for ‘The Queen’; BAFTA winner for ‘The Last King of Scotland’).

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone Books; First Edition edition (2 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743269837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743269834
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16.8 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (426 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,843,775 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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 51 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 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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35 of 41 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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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book if not factually correct 14 Feb 2003
I read this book last year having always been intrigued by the Boleyn family. Philippa Gregory draws you in with her easy to read style so much so that at times I felt like I was spying on certain conversations and found myself with tears in my eyes during the last few chapters. If you are remotely interested in the Tudors or even if you want to enjoy a good romance then this is the book for you.

I would however, like to point out why this book didn't get 5 stars. The books only failing is that it is factually incorrect and many people seem to take what Philippa Gregory has written about as fact and not the fiction that it is.

There are many different stories about Anne Boleyn some painting her as a saint and some as an all out witch. I felt that Anne was portrayed well in the sense of her ambition and desire to be queen (it was rare in that day and age for a woman to be so sure of her own path which I think makes her an excellent role model). The second half of the book however, follows a story that is a 'rumour' and just one account of what may have really happened. Philippa Gregory states that Anne Boleyn was the eldest daughter when in fact it is still unknown which daughter was born first. According to many historians it is likely that Mary was the eldest. Also do not believe Mary to be the perfect angelic girl painted in this book. It has been recorded that she, unlike her sister Anne, was quite loose with her favours at a very early age, whilst studying in France. Before she was Henry's mistress the King of France at the time boasted that he had had the pleasure of her company on an intimate level referring to her as "my hackney carriage".

If you enjoy this book and would like to learn more I would recommend Alison Weir's book "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" as an excellent follow-on or alternatively "Six Wives" by David Starkey.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a good story, tho it does drag a little in ...
Generally speaking, a good story, tho it does drag a little in places.
If you know the history of the period at all well though, the thumping inaccuracies do rather spoil it,... Read more
Published 12 hours ago by Fiona K. Steele
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
An easy read. Great for a holiday book for any one who likes historical novels.
Published 4 days ago by CAS
5.0 out of 5 stars Philippa Gregory ,,,,, the BEST !!!!
I received what I asked for, no questions asked, on time and in good condition ....... thanks
Published 5 days ago by Ralph Mangion
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
best historical book ecer. memorable, fantastic. highly recommend.
Published 7 days ago by verity
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous book I love history and have rfead most of Philippa Gregorys...
fabulous book I love history and have rfead most of Philippa Gregorys books especialy those about Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth
Published 8 days ago by janet hunter
1.0 out of 5 stars Give it a miss.
Uneventful book, 2 dimensional characters, yawn.
Published 9 days ago by Miss Alyna Dewani
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by nicki
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It gets better every time I read it.
Published 14 days ago by Diane
4.0 out of 5 stars Although I love Philippa Gregory's books
Although I love Philippa Gregory's books, this one was a little bit disappointing for me and felt like I had to make a real effort at times to pick the book up and read, although... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Joanna Cannon
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book
Another great book from Philippa it give lots of details that make you feel you are there. You can see why Mary run to the countryside I would have too the poor girl was used and... Read more
Published 14 days ago by ALISA
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