Jun 11, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: The Other Boleyn Girl

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

Today I haveThe Other Boleyn Girl the distinct pleasure of telling you about a book that I absolutely adored in high school. It's no secret that I like good historical fiction, but Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl literally blew me away. While it is actually the second book in the Tudor series, it was the first one published and remains, in my humble opinion, the best of the series.

The Other Boleyn Girl follows a fictionalized, but surprisingly accurate account, of King Henry VIII of England's marital status & romantic involvements in the early 1500's. Mary Boleyn had been sent to France for an education on societal interactions and came to the English court at the young age of 14. Now, early 1500's 14 and present-day 14 are two completely separate animals, and so she was considered a proper lady of marrying age.

Instead of being married though, she catches King Henry VIII's eye and falls madly in love with him. The novel follows their affair, because the King was still married to Lady Katherine of Aragon whom Mary served, and their love for one another. It's when Mary realizes that her family is using her to further their own interests that she understands that her future is not as secure and comfortable as it seems. There is a new woman in the court who is starting to appeal to the King. And it is the other Boleyn girl, Anne. Will Mary risk her safety and potentially her life to defy her family and king to live the life she has always wanted?

I'm not even exaggerating when I say this was one of the more compelling novels and attractive characters I had read. Mary was so dynamic, I felt like she could do anything she put her mind to in the face of immense danger. She seemed to know so much and be aware of so many things that it was just unreal. Her sister was simply demented though. Philippa did a wonderful job portraying Anne as the conniving, scheming individual that she truly was. There is no doubt in this story that everyone has flaws, but the way they manage their flaws is fascinating.

The setting was absolutely breathtaking as well. Philippa spends quite a bit of time and energy making sure that the scene is fully set in the reader's mind before she moves the storyline forward. It's almost as if she really wants you to experience something, that is very difficult for most people to imagine, firsthand. The clothes were opulent, the settings were mesmerizing, & the interactions were captivating. Nothing was spared in this story and it shows. This book is truly a fascinating read for court-based historical fans and anyone who loves some steaming romance scenes and betrayal.

P.N. While the 2008 film "The Other Boleyn Girl" starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana was overall decent, I found the storyline deviated far too much from the book. It was obviously made more sexual for audiences and I felt that it lost some of the poetry that the story lived in. Not bad, but the book is definitely better (as it almost always is).


Maria the Bookworm said...

I cannot wait to start this series, like you, I am very interested in historical fiction. I saw the movie and I loved it, but I guess if I'd read the books first I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. I believe I have all the books in the series in my bookshelf, but I still don't know which book is the first, second etc. (in the series, not published). You want to help me? :)

loreleimarsh said...

The official order of the series is:
1. The constant princess (c2005)
2. The other Boleyn girl (2002, c2001)
3. The Boleyn inheritance (2006)
4. The queen's fool (c2004)
5. The virgin's lover (c2004)
6. The other queen (2008)

As you can see they were written at different times, but that's the order they should be read in for time continuity. It's not required to read them that way, but it does help if you don't know the history that well. I hope this helps and good luck!

Maria the Bookworm said...

Thank you so much for your help. I cannot wait to start :)