March 31, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory


I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl last week when I was in my reading slump and in need of something to get me through it. I had tried to read this book a couple of years ago but I gave it away soon after I started because I was finding it a little too trashy for my tastes. My tastes have obviously changed or I am in a different reading mood at the moment because it didn't take me long to be taken in by the book this time around. Having said that - I do still think the book is quite poorly written and is extremely repetitive and boring in parts (particularly in the middle section) but for some reason I kept on reading until the very end.

I have always been interested in this period of English history - I think it is the best soap opera story around! I have also recently started watching The Tudors on tv and become a little obsessed by it! I'm not sure that Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a very accurate physical likeness to King Henry VIII but he does pretty the show up a lot!!

So, getting back to The Other Boleyn Girl, the book is told from the perspective of Anne Boleyn's sister Mary - the first Boleyn girl to attract the attention of King Henry and become his mistress. Of course we all know that it is Anne that finally goes on to become Henry's wife and Queen of England - although it doesn't end up all that well for her.

I liken the book and the story to a soap opera and that is definitely how the reading felt for me - very romanticised, sentimental and basic language and writing techniques - I felt as though I was being told a story rather than being shown the way and allowed to make up my own mind about certain characters and situations. I would normally hate this in a book but I obviously needed this type of book and storytelling at this time.

I'm not sure if I am going to go on and read the other books in this series - can anyone give me some advice on this??

I have picked up a copy of The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser from my library and I am thinking this might offer me a more historically accurate picture of the period.

14 comments:

Mari said...

This was definitely a guilty pleasure type of book as are the others in the series. I still need to get the newest addition. :)

adevotedreader said...

I admit I've avoided Philippa Gregory
because her books seemed trashy, glad one helped cure your reading slump though.

Karen said...

Hi Mari - a guilty pleasure is a great way to describe this book!

Hi adevotedreader - I know what you mean, that's what I have thought in the past too. Not sure that I will be jumping in to read the others in the series just yet though.

farmlanebooks said...

The Other Boleyn Girl is the best in the series by a long way. If you didn't love this one then I wouldn't recommend reading the rest.

Nadia said...

Hiya! I totally understand about being a reading slump and picking up a trashy book to help pick you up out of it. I do it all the time. I'll read chick lit type books to get my reading hat back on. Or if I can't even fathom reading a book I read a magazine like Oprah or Elle. It helps. As for Philippa Gregory I haven't read anything by her, but have been tempted. Now I am not so sure. But a little frivolity never hurt, right? By the by, glad that the trashy book helped you.

Amanda said...

So I've been avoiding Gregory books for a while now. For some reason I think there are better historical fiction authors out there. I really need to read one of hers to make that judgment though, huh? But I read The Last Boleyn by Karen Harper and really liked it. And Robin Maxwell is a really great author and I've been wanting to read her book The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn.

Iliana said...

I liked it a lot but I also thought of it like a guilty pleasure. I think you said it right, it reads like a soap opera.

I haven't read others in the series but I did pick up another of her books last year, The Wise Woman and hated it. I'll probably try her again another time but not in a rush.

Karen said...

Hi farmlanebooks - thanks for the advice! I had a feeling I probably wasn't going to go any further with this series.

Hi Nadia - magazines are great for reading slumps aren't they?? I read a lot of magazines when I am having a really busy time at work and just can't concentrate on a book at the end of the day.

Hi Amanda - I think you are right about there being much better historical fiction authors out there - thanks for the great suggestions.

Hi Iliana - sometimes I really enjoy a good soap opera and this one definitely had all the elements of one! Might need to move on to other reading now though!

Laura said...

Yep--I agree with you that this one was a bit soap opera-ish. I enjoyed reading it for the most part. I can't read more than one of this type of book in a row, but sometimes it's nice to read one here and there. The only other book I've read by Gregory was The Queen's Fool. I liked it a little better, but it has some of the same elements.

booklineandsinker said...

so annoying...my library only seems to have the other books in this series...so i haven't read this one yet. i'm interested to read it but haven't had the opportunity...

Bee Bee said...

Hi, I like your blog - I get to know about so many books :)
I have seen the movie and didnt know it was a book! (ignorance is bliss?)
I liked the movie though.

Karen said...

Hi Laura - I agree with you about not being able to read too many of these types of books in a row - I have moved on to something very different now.

Hi booklineandsinker - that's very strange that your library doesn't seem to have this one - I would have thought it would be the first one they would have!

Hi Bee Bee - great to meet you over here! I have the movie on DVD so was just waiting to finish the book before watching it.

claire said...

I've wanted to read this but avoided for the same reasons as you did before.

Btw, Antonia Fraser is wonderful. :D

Karen said...

Hi Claire - I'd give it a go but I would say make sure it's at a time when you are in the mood for some not so great writing!!