The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory


Rating: 3.5 Stars ★★★☆☆

I could hear a roll of muffled drums.


Mary Boleyn catches the eye of Henry VIII when she comes to court as a girl of fourteen. Dazzled by the golden prince, Mary’s joy is cut short when she discovers that she is a pawn in the dynastic plots of her family. When the capricious king’s interest wanes, Mary is ordered to pass on her knowledge of how to please him to her friend and rival: her sister, Anne.

Anne soon becomes irresistible to Henry, and Mary can do nothing but watch her ambitious sister’s rise. From now on, Mary will be no more than the other Boleyn girl. But beyond the court is a man who dares to challenge the power of her family to offer Mary a life of freedom and passion. If only she has the courage to break away – before the Boleyn enemies turn on the Boleyn girls…


The Other Boleyn Girl is a surprisingly good read. I mean, going into this book, I already knew how it would end. I knew that Anne Boleyn would get married to Henry and I knew that in the end, she would be beheaded.

And yet, despite knowing all that, the story was still full of tension. It made me forget how it would end, hope that there was some other way out. It’s quite an achievement. I came to care about the characters. Most of them, at least.

I really liked George, the easygoing brother, though his relationship with his sister was a bit weird. A bit too close for siblings. Made me a bit uncomfortable.

I also really liked Queen Katherine. It was heartbreaking how she was treated. The book describes her as a very dignified lady, keeping a courteous smile despite the adversity she faces.

He might summon me or any other girl to his room, without disturbing the constant steady affection between them which had sprung from her ability, long ago, to love this man who was more foolish, more selfish, and less of a prince than she was a princess.

And then there are the characters that are so incredibly unlikeable, but in a good way. You’re supposed to not like them. Henry, for instance, is an asshole. And Anne is, too. She’s ruthless and she’ll step on anyone to get her way. It was very well done.

The book also had some problems. Our narrator, Mary Boleyn, tends to go off on tangents, describing everything in sight in excrutiating detail, even the most unimportant details. Way too much when all I wanted was for the plot to move forward.

I took a little salad, the queen’s favorite dish, and drank wine and water.

It is very obvious, which characters we’re supposed to like and which ones to hate. It is very biased in a way. Anne and the Boleyns and Henry are described very negatively, whereas Mary can do nothing wrong. Her morality and innocence is thrown in the reader’s face so often it gets really, really annoying.

When you are sent back to me, perhaps a month from now, perhaps a year, I will try to remember this day, and you looking like a child, a little lost among all these clothes. I will try to remember that you were innocent of any plotting, that today at least, you were more a girl than a Boleyn.

I get that Mary is the “innocent” sister, the one who isn’t always scheming and full of ambition but, to be honest, she was so incredibly stupid sometimes that it was annoying. She wasn’t the most interesting character in the book.

Throughout the plot, she basically follows other people’s whims, she never does anything out of her own account. First she does what her family tells her, then she does what her husband tells her.


A fun, entertaining historical novel.


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