The Other Boleyn Girl

8 06 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl Book Cover

ISBN: 9780006514008

Pages: 529

Publication Date: 2001

“I could hear a roll of muffled drums. But I could see nothing but the lacing on the bodice of the lady standing in front of me, blocking my view of the scaffold”

The Other Boleyn Girl is a historical novel (which has also been adapted into a major motion picture starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson) by acclaimed writer Philippa Gregory in which she portrays the vibrant, fast and at times muffled life of 16th century Tudor England. Philippa Gregory is known for her Tudor portrayals in other books such as The Boleyn Inheritance, The Queen’s Fool and The Constant Princess, all of which are sequels to this book.

The setting: King Henry VIII is on the throne and Katherine of Aragon by his side.

The story opens with a gruesome execution, one of Mary Boleyn’s distant cousins (the Duke of Buckingham). His crime: suggesting that Henry couldn’t produce a healthy heir. A year later, Anne Boleyn returns from France to find her sister Mary married to the wealthy William Carey, despite Mary being only 14 years old. At this stage, one begins to question the reason why Philippa Gregory chose to portray Anne as the older of the two Boleyn girls, when most historians agree that Anne was in fact the younger of the two.

But when King Henry takes a fancy to young Mary, she is sent into a world of fast paced life at court as the Queen’s lady-in-waiting. Mary, now the King’s mistress, is forced by her family’s crushing ambition to go against the Queen she has served and loved. Her two siblings George and Anne are at her bidding, teaching her to keep the King interested. But when Mary falls pregnant by King Henry, for the second time, her scheming sister Anne sweeps in and captures the King’s wavering eye, Mary is reduced to Anne’s lady-in-waiting, effectively being reduced to a non-entity, and the titular “Other Boleyn Girl”.

But the story doesn’t end there, with the powerful wrath of King Henry VIII turning on the Boleyn family in the form of a gruesome set of executions and scandalous allegations but the question is will Mary be strong enough to follow her heart before the Boleyn’s enemies get the better of them.

Through this entire novel the reader is swept into a world of family ambition, treason, sex and whispered flirtations. Gregory’s adaption of Tudor England is fresh and riveting; forcing you to turn the page and take delight in each word. The famous tale ofThe Other Boleyn Girl will capture you right from the first page.

However; with historians saying one thing and the author saying another one is sent into a whirling sense of confusion. There is such a thing as artistic license, but there is always a limit that needs to be imposed before it gets in the way of telling the story.

With amazing reviews from the Daily Mail and the Sunday Telegraph this is a breathtaking adventure of silk corsets, jousting, and suspense.

I give it 3 out of 5.

Review by Kelly Ansara




2 responses

3 10 2008

I have a new book about Anne Boleyn. Would you like a free copy to review on your blog? Email me at

27 12 2008

Hi your website is cute
I have a new band and we just had a live gig you can see here:

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