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The Other Boleyn Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it for what it is - a really, really good story., 27 Feb. 2008
This review is from: The Other Boleyn Girl (Paperback)
I'm giving The Other Boleyn Girl five stars because it's the first time for probably years, that I'm going around telling everyone I talk to how much I love this book. For the first time in ages, I became totally immersed and didn't skim a single page.

As for the criticisms about historical accuracy which it has received, I would just say that it is not claiming to be a historical biography or an investigation into the Reformation, but a tale spun between the historical events which took place. I understood it not as Philippa Gregory saying "This is what happened", but rather, "This is a story which could have filled these gaps - enjoy.". I enjoyed the characterisation of the Boleyns; it all went to create a very compelling story. Mary's love story post-Henry is particularly touching and I liked the fact that, although billed as "two sisters competing for the love of a king", the novel went beyond that and into the adult lives of the protagonists.

Perhaps a little off-topic, I'm also pretty taken aback that some reviewers are stating that the real Mary Boleyn was 'promiscuous' from a very early age. The one thing that stood out in the book to me was the culture of very, very young 'women' being traded between men at court, whether for marriage or just sex; I hardly think a (pre-)adolescent girl could have said 'no' to a king. Also, I disagree with the opinion that Mary was the 'weak' sister in this novel, and Anne the 'strong' one. One desperately hitching her fortunes to the whims of a man for no real motive but a lust for power, and one finding the courage to break away and be her own woman, finding strength in owning and managing her own land? I know which I think is the better "role model" (for want of a better term). And yes, perhaps the real Boleyn sisters were not like their fictional counterparts. It shouldn't really bother the reader unless they have just published a PhD of "Anne Boleyn: Feminist Icon".

Anyway, for the first time since primary school, I've actually begun to be be interested in Tudor history, so there's a point for the historians, I suppose!
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2009 10:24 PM BST

The Complete Persepolis
The Complete Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.25

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly reccommended!, 15 Feb. 2008
Amazing read! Through the narration of the author's spirited, likeable and slightly mad younger self growing up in Iran, the reader learns so much about life there from an insider's perspective, without ever feeling even remotely lectured to. The illustrations are original and witty, and draw you into the world Marjane Satrapi vividly evokes. The characters of her family, friends and neighbours are very well portrayed and there are definitely more than a few laughs despite (because of?) the serious subject matter.

If you know French, I really recommend getting the original, because the graphic novel format makes it very easy and motivating to read and the conversational style will be a nice change from textbooks and newspapers! If not, the English translation is very good and was supervised by Marjane Satrapi herself, whose English is good enough to make sure the sense has been captured exactly by the translator (a friend of hers, I think I remember reading).

Also, the Amazon price at the time of writing is an absolute bargain, if you are getting all four books in one! I bought mine separately for about that price each!

Mediterranean Vegetarian Cooking
Mediterranean Vegetarian Cooking
by Paola Gavin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, fresh ingredients well-prepared, 27 Aug. 2006
Really, really love this book! As well as the Mediterranean countries you'd expect it also draws from the cuisine of lesser-known places such as Croatia and Northern Africa, and the introduction includes a few pages on the food traditions of each country. Every recipe not only sounds delicious but is often incredibly simple to make; most of them are very vegetable-based. Flicking through the recipes you start to understand the secret of Mediterranean food - simple, fresh ingredients well-prepared. And it is so unbelievably satisfying to cook this way - making the most of what you have and ending up with a delicious and very nutritious meal. And the Mediterranean diet is very well-suited to a vegetarian regime as meat has often been scarce in these countries while vegetables and pulses have been abundant; these well-balanced dishes are no poor substitute for a meat equivalent but what people have been working away at and happily eating for centuries! There are lots of fantastic desserts too - this is a cookbook you can really live by every day rather than a coffe-table novelty.

The only complaints I have are that: a) There are no illustrations of the food anywhere (although, to be fair, you can often tell what it is supposed to look like just by reading the ingredients when it is a vegetable dish), and b) Quite annoying this one - as it is an American book, you have to wade through confusing imperial measurements and 'cups' of things, as well as 'eggplants' and 'zucchinis' etc., so it's best if you have a scale with imperial on, or a conversion guide.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2008 11:13 PM GMT

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