Sunday 23 March 2014

Counting Down: Top Five

3. The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory 

Mary Boleyn enters court at a young age, full of innocence and beauty. Appointed lady-in-waiting, she secures a closeness with Queen Catherine of Aragon, not only putting her in the midst of the court but under the watchful eye of King Henry VIII. Soon, she is tumbling forward in a battle for the throne and the King's heart, not knowing that her fiercest enemy are ones closest to her.


My love for The Other Boleyn Girl stems from many reasons.

Firstly, it introduced me into the world of Historical Fiction - the kind I liked. Whilst I knew of the existence of fictionalised recounts of World Wars and such, I never realised that people actually wrote about long dead kings and queens (I know, stupid right). It definitely pulled me in, and I quickly fell in love with the voices of characters that had appeared on Wikipedia for me.

Secondly, it intensified my love for the Tudor times. I studied the era back when I was in Year 8, and from doing a research project on King Henry VIII and his wives, I grew obsessed. The world seemed magical to me somehow, and exciting. The beauty of the court, the gowns and the "chivalrous" knights, I was determined to believe that the Tudor era was great. The Other Boleyn Girl certainly evokes those elements, but there's also the dangers of the court and the ambition that arises. There was enough drama to have me enthralled. I'm not certain it's 100% historically accurate, but Greggory has done her research. She's just taken points that have been rumoured to occur and stretched them out, to keep the plot interesting. Not going to lie, I loved the scandals and intrigued that played out.

Thirdly, whilst I say it's not 100% accurate, it still gave quite a lot of insight into the era and not only the relationship between Henry and Anne Boleyn, but also Mary Boleyn who not many people know about. I never knew she even existed until reading this novel! I guess because her sister became Queen, she was overlooked as the girl who failed. Her story, however much fictionalised it is, is still very interesting and quite believable.

That's why fourthly, I say I loved the book because Mary had me in the palm of her hands. She drew support from me, and stereotypically Anne was the villain of the story. True to history's recount, Anne was depicted in a conniving and ambitious way. I guess that might be something that was on the iffy side of this book, but I overlooked it because I was immersed in Mary's life too much.

Not only Mary though, but the other characters had such a riveting tale they seemed very much alive. George Boleyn enchanting, William charming and Catherine of Aragon dignified.

Lastly, the plot was simply amazing. It's definitely not a light read but it's filled with rich and exciting moments that had me engrossed. I've flown through the novel so many times without getting bored because it is that good. It's hard not to be swept up into the corruption and deceit that circulates a court that seems so perfect on the outside. It's the right amount of drama that doesn't overwhelm and seem exaggerated.

I understand that this might suit everyone's taste, but I would recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction and just reading in general.

P.S If you saw the movie and have written off reading the book, don't. I don't even want to acknowledge the existence of the movie.

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