TBF : The Book Files : The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory 

Hello everyone!😀😊😇

I am back after a long albeit deserved break! After a poetic spree full of heartache, nostalgia and patriotism, let’s go back to the reason this is called a BOOK BLOG!😑

It’s Monday which means TBF (The Book Files)📘 time! The book I shall be reviewing today is : The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. It’s a historical fiction based on real characters, weaving a tale of who were and what could/might have been. 

The Other Boleyn Girl 

Author : Philippa Gregory 

Release year : 2001

ISBN : 0-7394-2711-3

Available On : 

http://www.flipkart.com :  INR 499/- (Condition : New) 

http://www.bookchor.com : INR 87/- (Condition : Loved) 

The story is narrated by Mary Boleyn, younger sister of the famous Anne Boleyn, set in the time of the reign of 🔱Henry VIII. It starts with a 14 year old Mary, a lady in waiting for Catherine of Aragon, the first wife and 🔱Queen of England. A simple, sweet and somewhat naive Mary, was married off at 12 by her Father, Thomas Boleyn, the keeper of the🔱 King’s household, to William Carey, to secure a high position in the 🔱King’s court eventually securing the future of the entire Boleyn family. She has always been in the shadow of her ambitious and practical elder sister, Anne (Annamaria) and hopes to gain some advantage because of her marriage and status as a favourite of the 🔱Queen. Anne is introduced as she returns from the court of Francis 1, sophisticated, cruel, selfish and cold, impeccable in manners and strategy. With her charm and wit, she is placed to win over the 🔱King but when the Boleyns realise that it is Mary he prefers, they break off her marriage to William Carey, leaving her open to persue and be persued. Horrified and unwilling initially, Mary’s pleas are ignored and her arguments fall on deaf ears. Feeling the pressure of her family and also realising the her husband agrees with the plot, although reluctantly, she goes back to the court, assisted and guided by Anne. The 🔱King openly flirts and dances with Mary, going so far as to wear her favour in a jousting match. The relationship suffers a rude halt as Mary, now in love with the 🔱King, complains to Henry that he left her scarf behind in the dust and was returned to her publically, humiliating her in front of the 🔱Queen and other ladies. He rebuffs her nagging and stops paying her even so much as a glance, which angers her Father for jeopardising the family’s future because of her silly antics. Hatching a plan with her father, her Uncle, the Duke of Norfolk and brother George, Anne sends her away from the 🔱King’s sight to test his patience and increase his desire for her through her absence. The plan works and Mary comes back to court, now much more confident in her own convictions than earlier, following the course of behaviour as per Anne. Anne on the other hand, gets betrothed to Lord Henry Percy who is already promised to Mary Talbot. A scandal ensues, leaving Anne devastated and humiliated and the family name in tatters. Like Mary, she too is exiled to House Hever, as punishment for her deeds, further aggravating the envy between the two sisters. As Mary gives birth to a girl, Catherine, Anne plots and plans to have the 🔱King for herself. 

I first read about Anne Boleyn in a very unexpected source : 50 real ghost stories, a book I bought for Diwali in 2006. In it, the story of an ambitious yet naive Anne Boleyn, the second Queen of Henry VIII, replacing Catherine of Aragon. When she is unable to provide the King with any male heir, she is wrongly accused, framed and then executed for adultery and incest. The tower where she was beheaded is said to still be haunted by her spirit, stuck in limbo, wronged and lost. Intrigued by the story, I watched a documentary about the 8 wives of Henry VIII, in which she is depicted as a willing pawn of her family, to further their own positions in court. When I read TOBG for the first time, I myself was quite appalled by the portrayal of her character, the complete opposite of what I had read till date. As I gingerly proceeded through the story, Anne grew more and more terrifying. 

Despite the setback, the story is a great showcase of the ruthless Tudor England, where daughters were sold off to secure family positions and increase the stature of the house, no matter the price. How a family, willingly sell of their own daughters for their gains paints a sad image of the aristocrats in those ages. If you are interested in reading more about such dynasties, I recommend you to read the Horrible Histories Series by Terry Deary. His books are amazingly informative and funny, pushing away the oft experienced boredom at the hands of History. Compromising marriages, alliances made like business mergers, cruelty and ruthlessness trumping innocence and love, this tale has it all. From rivalry to betrayal, love to hatred, the characters take you through a turmoil of emotions and more than often the readers falls on his face with the incidents and happenings. It’s okay on the engaging front otherwise, where it drags and the characters go into a full blown reverie for a couple of pages. Since I love history, it was an easy 2 day read (Remember I was a student with crazy time on my hands) But I still couldn’t help feeling bad for poor Anne.😢

Although the story is fictional, Gregory has seen a lot of hear for the horrifying portrayal of Anne Boleyn. She also has been in controversy for alleging that her novels are historically accurate and therefore, should be taken as a direct and right source of Tudor history. Also, the discrepancies between history and the book are quite stark. Anyhow, regardless, it’s an engaging enough read with a few nags and drags here and there and enjoyable despite an average person’s aversion to history. 

Overall rating : 🌟 🌟 🌟 

  • ✔Characters : 8.5 / 10 (The characters are written with such vividity that you end up feeling a particular way for everyone of them. You feel sorry for Mary, anger and pity for Anne, indignation at the treatment of a few others and so on.)
  • ✔Storyline : 7/10 (The story is pretty much centred around the preexisting plot and characters, but Gregory has been great with weaving a tale of relationships.)
  • ✔Writing Style : 9 / 10 (Easy, understandable and well written. The narration and dialogues go hand in hand which makes it easier to keep a hold on the scene.)

💝💝💝Happy reading everyone! 💝💝💝

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