The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory

"Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king.


When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands.


A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart."




I read this for a book club pick. I would not have likely read past the first chapter otherwise.  "A rich and compelling tale," my ass.  The writing failed to compel any sympathy in me towards anyone in the book.  William, Mary's second husband was OK, and there were a number of secondary characters with absolutely no development that I didn't mind, such as George's courtier lover.


I think I liked one thing that Gregory did in this novel.  I appreciate the symmetry between how it starts and ends.  I'm sure she is a delightful writer, and the book itself was reasonably well written and edited, but I found this book neither "rich" no "compelling."


What shocks me about my utter lack of sympathy towards the characters is that Mary is largely a victim throughout the whole book.  I don't care how historically accurate marrying girls of 12 is, I don't really like hearing about how fantastic a 12-year-old virgin was rumored to be on her wedding night.  The king is a self-centered, spoiled, and manipulative predator.  Mary is an immature girl with hero worship.  Anne is a monster.  The whole Boleyn family is made up of egotistical monsters who would sacrifice their country just to rise in rank.  They don't think that the risk of their actions igniting a war is anything to be concerned about.  Gah!


It is a tale of ambition and intrigue, largely of that of those around the narrator, who sort of floats along.  Sex occurs, but largely behind closed doors and with mostly coded language.  Don't expect steamy scenes, you will be sorely disappointed.  As for love?  I guess there are several strands of love story intertwined, but they are largely secondary to the overwhelming ambition of ego.